Ports America has agreed to make room for the refrigerated facility by reducing the property it leases from the port by about 13.5 acres (5.5ha). The area includes a transit shed and open space normally used to store steel and other breakbulk commodities on the upriver end of the Ports America land. This will make room for the construction of a 147,000 sq ft (13,660 sq m) refrigerated warehouse, which will be operated by New Orleans Cold Storage (NOCS).
The need for a new cold storage facility was brought about by Hurricane Katrina which cut off waterborne access for larger deep draught vessels to the port’s refrigerated terminal at Jourdan Road on the Industrial Canal.
Today, the only waterborne access to the Jourdan Road Terminal is through the Inner Harbour Navigation Canal Lock. Only about half of the vessels normally handled by NOCS fit through the lock. Since Katrina, NOCS has been forced to truck much of its cargo to docks in New Orleans along the Mississippi River to load it into ships. The additional transportation cost puts NOCS at a severe competitive disadvantage. The long-term solution requires NOCS to have a location on the Mississippi River, where it will have reliable, deep-draught ship access.