Port building may be empty; MTT interested in a lease

A longtime tenant may be leaving its site at the Port of West St. Mary.

Executive Director David Allain told the port commission Tuesday that he has been in discussions with National Oilwell Varco for more than a year now.

In December, Allian said, the company sent him email saying they intended to renew the five-year lease on their facility at the port, and were also interested in the industrial park site on the Charenton Navigation and Drainage Canal as part of an overall consolidation the company is in the process of enacting. A followup email indicated they preferred a two-year lease.

Allain informed the company that the port’s standard lease agreement is five years, and the company responded requesting a three-year lease.

“In the last month and a half I’ve had little to no conversation (with the company),” Allain said.

The lease ends March 31.

“It looks like their consolidation plans do not include the industrial park and they’re indicating they may be moving on,” he said.

But Allain said there is interest in the port-located facility by another longtime tenant, Marine Turbine Technologies.

“We have a deal, basically,” Allain said.

MTT owner Ted McIntyre was present at the meeting and said the company is prepared to sign a five-year lease at any time. He said there were some maintenance issues in the building that need the attention of the port commission pending entering into the lease.

MTT is expanding into turbine-powered generators and would use the building for that purpose.

McIntyre said he was flexible with a timeline for occupying the building, and would give National Oilwell Varco all the time they need to move out, within reason.

“We have to make up our mind if we’ll give (National Oilwell Varco) more time,” commission President Calvin Deshotel said.

“We all know they want to leave,” Commissioner Wayne Stevens said. “I’d say you sign five years or be out by August 1. I don’t mean to put them out on the street but I’ve seen that big building they’re building in Broussard,” he said of the company’s new facility in that area.

Other commissioners agreed.

“They have outright told me the current location is not good,” Allain added.

“I want to help the man who’s going to stay with us,” Stevens said of McIntyre and MTT.

Commissioner Willie Peters said tenants deserve courtesy especially if they’ve been on the site for many years.

The commission agreed to allow Allain to continue to communicate with National Oilwell Varco and MTT.

“I offered a couple of times to go to Houston to talk to them,” Allain said of National Oilwell Varco. “I’d rather not say what they said in the email but it wasn’t nice. I can let them know what happened here tonight, raise the heat a little and see what happens.”

Also Tuesday, Allain said a company is negotiating with the owners of the former Superior Fabricators property on the Charenton Canal.

The negotiations includ not only the site but actual purchase of the company, Allain said. The interested party is also in fabrication.

In other business the commission:

–Approved $60,000 for repairs and maintenance to the rail spur on the port property.

–Approved an increase in fee for legal counsel from $125 per hour to $175 per hour.

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