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JACKSONVILLE, FL-In the biggest industrial transaction of its kind here, Tokyo-based Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd expects to close a $200-million deal with the Jacksonville Port Authority to lease an estimated two million sf for 30 years. The firm plans a 158-acre container-handling facility, two 1,200 berths and six 100-ton cranes, the authority confirms.

The deal is scheduled to close Aug. 3. First-phase ground-breaking will begin the same day at Dames Point along the St. Johns River, about 10 miles from the Atlantic in northeast Jacksonville where the new terminal will be built on a two-year construction track. Later phases could expand the terminal to 200 acres with an additional one million sf of leasable space, Jacksonville industrial brokers familiar with the deal tell GlobeSt.com.

“There hasn’t been anything like this happening here in most of our lifetimes,” a broker who could be involved in some of the leasing phases tells GlobeSt.com. The port is commonly known as Jaxport.

The contract will provide the city with direct container ship service for the first time between Jacksonville and Asia. The project itself is projected to create 1,800 new local jobs. The total number new jobs from supporting operations in trucking, distribution and shipping-related services is expected to reach the 5,600 level, port officials say in a prepared statement. The estimated economic impact on northeast Florida is $870 million, according to port officials.

“We are opening a doorway to Asia for local companies, enabling them to export directly to a huge consumer market or to import goods through their local port, resulting in cost savings,” says William C. Mason, chairman of Jaxport’s board. “This agreement also creates new opportunities in manufacturing, distribution and warehousing, all linked to trade with these new markets.” He says home improvement and department stores may now look to open distribution centers in Jacksonville because the port will provide them with a direct link to their Asian suppliers.

Ron Baker, Jaxport’s deputy executive director and chief financial officer, says, “Financially, this stands to be a very lucrative deal for both our shipping line partner and for Jaxport.” He estimates the new annual revenue at about $7 million.

The job, revenue and expansion projections were made for the port by Martin Associates, a Lancaster, PA-based consulting firm specializing in maritime-related projects. Mitsui OSK Lines has delivered millions of Japanese-made vehicles to the port over the past 25 years.

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