A Fistful of Peanuts

Gregory Richards produced an article in the September 5th edition of the Virginia-Pilot that brought out some interesting points regarding APM’s new $ 450 million terminal in Portsmouth. Let’s begin with the enthusiastic comment of Portsmouth Mayor James Holley.

“When the new $ 450 million port terminal officially opens in his city on Friday, Mayor James Holley will be all smiles.

“‘That’ll be the biggest and the best ribbon we’ve cut since 1752,’ Holley said. That was the year Portsmouth was founded.”

The article goes on to state that, “APM Terminals Virginia will add many more container-hauling trucks to city roads and send out road-choking trains multiple times each week. Its bright lights and noise may disturb neighbors in West Norfolk and Hunters Point,” … Developments like those, however, should be causes for dismay rather than enthusiasm.

“But it also will pump at least $ 2 million a year into Portsmouth’s tax coffers,” the story continues, and this, more than likely, is the reason for Mayor Holley’s enthusiasm.

But $ 2 million a year? All around the country, lottery winners are winning more than that every day. $ 2 million is peanuts. With the $ 2.2 billion Craney Island terminal in the works though, that $ 2 million annual take will lighten the load considerably for Virginia taxpayers. Sure it will.

APM’s expenditure of $ 450 million for a container terminal isn’t a good will gesture. Companies shell out that kind of money only when there’s a lucrative profit assured. Isn’t that why AIG, Deutsch and the Canadian Teachers Pension Fund have opted for container terminal ownership?

We’ve spoken to some prominent Virginia people recently, and we’ve offered to lease the soon-to-be-vacated 70 acre APM terminal. We would install our patented container storage, retrieval and delivery system at that site, at our own expense, of course, and we would happily pay $ 500,000 per acre … annually … for the privilege. That would come to about $ 33 million dollars per year more than APM intends to “pump … into Portsmouth’s tax coffers”. And we could afford to pay that kind of money because, we admit, “there’s a lucrative profit assured”. [Cf. our Vol. XI, Art. 16]

Sorry to say, we’ve received no encouragement from those Virginia folks. We even went out of our way to provide figures showing that our operation would make it unnecessary to expend $ 2.2 billion on the Craney Island project, but we were just confusing them with facts.

“Portsmouth needs the help … the terminal will be the city’s largest real estate tax payer,” the article revealed.

[Portsmouth needs the help, alright. That $ 2 million deal is nothing to brag about.]