The Georgia Ports Authority achieved its busiest month ever for containerized trade in August, handling 437,750 twenty-foot equivalent container units. At the GPA Board meeting Tuesday, Executive Director Griff Lynch reported August volumes grew by 62,000 TEUs, or 16.5 percent compared to the same month last year.
“We’re seeing an early and strong start to peak season at the Port of Savannah,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “In addition to expanding trade on our regular weekly services, shipping lines are adding calls by sweeper ships to meet rising demand.”
In August, GPA handled eight extra ships over its regular 37 weekly vessel calls, adding nearly 20,000 TEUs to the month’s volume. Lynch noted increased business through the Port of Savannah is driving private investment, but the industrial vacancy rate remains low. Of structures offering 100,000 square feet or more, the vacancy rate is 1.42 percent.
“At GPA, we’re making a call to action for private developers to enter or expand in this very active market,” said GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight. “Within a 30-mile radius of the Port of Savannah, there are more than 20,000 acres of industrial park space ready for development.”
Over the past two years, property that the Georgia Ports Authority put on the market within its Savannah River International Trade Park has been developed, adding 5 million square feet of distribution space for companies such as Shaw, Safavia, Wayfair and others. At its September meeting, the GPA Board approved $3.75 million in road improvement projects to avoid truck congestion at the trade park.
New construction in Fiscal Year 2019 added 10.7 million square feet of industrial space across the Savannah market, for a total of 67.7 million square feet. Thanks to the fastest net absorption as a percent of inventory in the nation, most of that new construction has already been occupied, according to Colliers International.
In April, California-based Plastic Express, in conjunction with Capital Development Partners, announced plans to invest $172 million in a new 2.4 million square-foot Savannah facility. The first phase of the rail-served location is scheduled to open for operation in November.
To better accommodate the growth in cargo crossing Garden City Terminal docks, the Authority is making port improvements, such as:
- Commissioning four new Neo-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes in FY2019, bringing its Garden City fleet to 30 — the most of any single terminal in North America.
- Six more ship-to-shore cranes will arrive by early March. The new cranes will be commissioned in the first half of Calendar Year 2020, allowing GPA to move up to 1,200 containers per hour.
- Increasing Savannah’s rubber-tired gantry crane fleet to 158. Another 20 RTGs will arrive in shipments of five in June, July, August and September 2020. Growing the fleet to 178 will ensure efficient terminal operation and the free flow of cargo.
- Building new RTG rows to add 400,000 TEUs in annual capacity. This will bring Garden City Terminal’s total yearly capacity to almost 6 million TEUs by March.