Christopher J. Kane
In order to create a “mega plastics complex,” this attorney collaborated with the Port of New Orleans, New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, and city and state entities.
Economic development, transportation, construction and government relations
Adams & Reese
17 years in practice
BA and MBA Christian Brothers University; JD Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
Chris Kane, a partner at Adams and Reese, specializes in economic development, transportation, construction and government relations. One of his toughest cases involved all three of these industries.
In 2008, while the city was still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, Christian Jensen — president of the Jensen Companies — enlisted Kane’s help to convert several industrial properties in the Ninth Ward into a packaging facility that would also become the new home for the Jensen family business, Transportation Consultants, Inc.
“Christian, who happens to be my cousin, came to us and said they wanted to transport raw plastic manufactured in Louisiana and Texas to New Orleans by rail and package it for international shipping,” said Kane. “The problem is we had nowhere to do it.”
The team collaborated with the Port of New Orleans, the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, the city, the state and other players to identify property that could accommodate the project. They ultimately set their sights on an industrial parcel owned by the port, located between Alvar Street and France Road in the Ninth Ward.
Selling the idea took a lot of work.
“The port at the time wasn’t of the mindset to sell,” said Kane. “They knew that real estate was hard to come by, and even though the property was out of commerce, it may come back. We walked them through the plan and wound up convincing them.”
The first phase of the project, which totaled 150,000 square feet, was completed in 2010. Post-Katrina, “GO Zone” tax incentives were a key part of the equation. Then, in 2014, it was time to expand.
“We went back to the port to ask about the property next door,” said Kane. “The land was owned by the port, and the building was owned by New Orleans Cold Storage. We bought all of it.”
That neighboring site was home to a 60,000 square-foot building. TCI added another 200,000 square feet, but the expansion still wasn’t complete.
“Christian said, ‘I don’t have time to build another new warehouse. We need to find an existing property that has good rail access,’” said Kane. “I told him ‘I’m not Walt Disney, I can’t just do that,’ … but we went back to the port and we leased the Esplanade Wharf and the Gov. Nicholls Wharf from them.”
The wharves added an additional 250,000 square feet to what’s become colloquially known as the “mega plastics complex.”
Jensen’s vision has been realized: The team converted underused real estate into a packaging facility that competes with similar operations in Houston.
The undertaking took years of work, but the result has been worth it, said Kane, who said he is proud that the project has brought much-needed tax revenue and jobs to the city.