GULFPORT -- Chiquita will remain a port tenant for six more months -- at double the rent -- but a couple of port commissioners wanted to give the company the boot when its lease expires July 15.
The vote was 3-2 to extend Chiquita's stay until the company is ready to return to the Port of New Orleans after 40 years in Gulfport. The port had been working with Chiquita to design the company's new facilities on the West Pier. Chiquita's departure was rumored for weeks before the company notified the port of its plans in mid-May. It comes as the company prepares to merge with Irish fruit business Fyffes.
"We just wanted to send a message to them that we didn't agree with the way they treated us, giving us such short notice while we were steady designing buildings for them," said Commissioner Bobby Knesal, joined by Commissioner Jim Simpson in voting against the extension.
Chiquita and three other tenants have continued operations while the port undergoes a massive expansion.
Executive Director Jonathan Daniels said the Chiquita extension doubles the company's rent, to $50,240 per month for 25 acres, plus office, shop and warehouse space.
Chiquita can be penalized for any equipment or property left at the port as of Jan. 1, with removal by the port allowed at Chiquita's expense.