Katoen Natie to maintain BR and port facilities

A Belgian company’s planned 2 million-square-foot logistics center north of Baton Rouge won’t affect the firm’s existing facility on the other side of the Mississippi River at the Port of Greater Baton, which could be expanded, the port’s executive director said Thursday.

On Wednesday, Katoen Natie announced plans for a $150 million plastics storage, packaging and distribution facility at a 127-acre site on Scenic Highway. The company already has 200,000 square feet of space at the port site, according to the company’s website.

Port Executive Director Jay Hardman, who met Thursday with Katoen Natie officials, said the new facility will mainly serve ExxonMobil.

Katoen Natie’s port site mainly serves Dow Chemical, and it wouldn’t be cost-effective to ship the plastics from one side of the river to the other, Hardman said.

Hardman said the port and Katoen Natie have had very preliminary, conceptual discussions about an expansion of the company’s port facility.

That may be possible once the port completes a $2.1 million rehabilitation of the rail spur at the Inland Rivers Marine Terminal, where Katoen Natie is located, Hardman said.

Katoen Natie’s space at the port includes 40,000 square feet under lease at the terminal, 50,000 square feet at the port itself and a fluctuating amount in one of the port’s covered storage areas.

The rehabilitation project is now in the design phase, but Hardman said the port expects the design will be completed in the near future, and work could begin during the summer.