BR port finalizes land deal

From The Adovcate:

The Port of Greater Baton Rouge got the final signature Thursday from a family selling the port a 135-acre piece of property on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

The port agreed to pay $3.1 million for the land, which bundled with previously purchased parcels will be used for future development, ending a long-running dispute over how much the parcel purchased Thursday was worth.

The purchase price of $23,000 per acre for the so-called Mahaffey property roughly split the difference between the $14,000-per-acre port appraisal for the property and the $30,000-per-acre price of the Mahaffey family’s appraisal.

In a letter to the port commission, Executive Director Jay Hardman said both appraisals were fair but used different criteria in valuing the land.

Previous reports on the dispute noted that the higher value was taking into account the surrounding land, which had been accumulated by the port during the last decade.

The port’s contention was that the Mahaffey tract needed to be valued according to what any other purchaser would pay for a piece of landlocked property.

The deal gives the port about 400 acres of developable land between its Inland Rivers Marine Terminal and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

The total amount for all parcels together comes to about $6.4 million, or just under $16,000 per acre.

Hardman noted that’s a fair price for that much land, noting in the letter that its lease rates for undeveloped land is between $4,500 and $6,500 per acre.

In other business, the port’s board of commissioners approved $2.1 million in work to rehabilitate the rail spur at the marine terminal, $1 million of which would come from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The board also approved 4 percent raises for the 26 port employees, five of them unclassified.

Hardman, who was included in the raises, said staff hadn’t gotten a raise since 2009, though some got raises in 2010.