Louis Dreyfus to lease Port of Houston public elevator

by Teresa Acklin
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The Port of Houston Authority board of commissioners voted recently to enter into a contract with Louis Dreyfus Corp., under which the Houston Public Elevator would be leased to the corporation.

Bill Mullins, Port of Houston bulk facilities manager, said the agreement, yet to be completed, would give Dreyfus a five-year lease and an option to renew the lease for five years.

Dreyfus executives were not available for comment on their plans for the elevator, which was erected in 1979 and has a rated storage capacity of 120,000 bu (3,300 tonnes) per hour. The facility is located in Galena Park, Texas, on the north side of the Houston Ship Channel.

The Port of Houston Authority has operated the elevator since 1993, acquiring it in 1992 from a group of four previous lease holders.

The port authority decided to lease the public elevator for financial reasons. Mr. Mullins said the facility until recently had been "marginally successful" from a financial standpoint.

"With improvements in its efficiency, it has shown more positive results in the last few years," he said. "But with the ongoing consolidation and merger activity in the grain business, we realized that the property was more valuable to a single customer who would have exclusive rights to the elevator."

Under operation by the port authority, the public elevator had primarily handled wheat, along with some sorghum and corn shipments. The elevator is headed for record volume in 1999, Mr. Mullins said. He pointed out that in the first eight months of 1999, the elevator had handled about 45 million bu (1.2 million tonnes) of grain, almost all of it hard winter wheat, compared with 43 million bu for all of 1998. "We are looking at 60 million bu (1.6 million tonnes) for the year," he said.