Solidifying its position at the Port of Wilmington, Dole Food Co. Inc. has signed a 15-year lease.

Dole signs Port of Wilmington leaseEarlier in the year, the Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole was in negotiations with the South Jersey Port Corporation to relocate operations at the Port of Paulsboro, a New Jersey port scheduled to open in 2015.

In August, Dole stated it reached an agreement in principle with the Diamond State Port Corporation, which owns and operates the Wilmington, Del., port.

The agreement became official with the Dec. 10 signing, which commits Diamond State to increase the number of cranes and provide other upgrades for the 37.7 acres of terminal land and 100,000 square feet of warehouse and office space Dole occupies at the port, according to a news release.

Dole signs Port of Wilmington leaseThe lease includes two 10-year extension options and should allow Dole Fresh Fruit Co., a Dole subsidiary, to remain at the port through 2048, according to the release.

“We have been at the Port of Wilmington for more than 30 years and this agreement with the Diamond State Port Corporation reaffirms our commitment to the people of Delaware, the longshoremen, our employees, vendors and customers,” Stuart Jablon, Dole Fresh Fruit’s vice president and general manager of operations, said in the release. “Dole was the first containerized banana company importing here.

“We are confident that this decision will help maintain Dole’s position as a top brand in the very competitive North American fruit market and we look forward to enjoying a long and mutually supportive relationship with the port for many years to come,” he said in the release.

The port’s largest tenant, Dole imports containers of bananas, pineapples and other tropicals and vegetables. Before relocating to Wilmington in 1982, Dole imported through a Baltimore port.