Developer planning $40M cold storage facility in Pender Commerce Park

A rendering of the $40 million cold storage facility in the Pender Commerce Park depicts a massive warehouse with ceiling clearance of at least 50 feet. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Wilmington Business Development)
A rendering of the $40 million cold storage facility in the Pender Commerce Park depicts a massive warehouse with ceiling clearance of at least 50 feet. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Wilmington Business Development)

PENDER COUNTY –– A commercial real estate developer has a $40 million cold storage facility in the works at the Pender Commerce Park.

RealtyLink plans to construct up to 300,000 square feet of refrigerated warehouse space in the growing park, which has added on several new tenants in recent years.

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The Greenville, S.C.-based firm is building similar cold storage facilities in five regions, including Wilmington, with port access. Comparable projects are underway in Mobile, Ala., Charleston, S.C., Houston, Texas, and Gainesville, Ga., meeting a “tremendous need” in the U.S. for new cold storage capacity, known as “reefer” (refrigerated) space.

Exact details aren’t yet set, according to a Wilmington Business Development press release Monday. RealtyLink’s vice president of cold storage reported in the release that the facility will have clear ceiling heights of 50 feet. Temperatures will range between negative 20 degrees to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The average cold storage facility in the U.S. is over 35 years old with lower and less efficient clear ceiling heights,” Thomas Eldridge, RealtyLink’s Atlanta-based principal, said in the release. “We’re going taller with a more efficient state-of-the-art design.”

Accelerated growth in protein exports –– notably pork –– is to credit for the new project. The company noted the Port of Wilmington has a “reefer imbalance,” meaning it’s exporting more refrigerated cargo than is arriving. RealtyLink aims to show Wilmington is ready to accept more fresh and frozen products at the port.

In August 2016, Port of Wilmington Cold Storage opened the port’s first on-site cold storage facility, with a 101,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse designed to accommodate perishable goods with both freezing and cooling abilities. The $17.5 million venture arose out of a partnership between USA InvestCo and the NC State Ports Authority, boosted by a federal program that gave citizenship to 30 foreign investors who each contributed $500,000 to the initiative.

A majority of cold storage demand is brought on by food producers; however, pharmaceutical, floral, and fur manufacturers also utilize the facilities.

RealtyLink selected Pender Commerce Park, located just north of the New Hanover-Pender County line, because of its proximity to the port and its on-site infrastructure. The county-owned park welcomed its first tenant, Acme Smoked Fish, in 2013 and has added many new businesses to its rolls in recent years, most recently including Ramm Capital Partners’ 127,000-square-foot speculative building late last year.

“We welcome this game-changing addition to our region’s inventory of industrial real estate assets,” George Brown, chairman of Pender County Board of Commissioners, said in the release. “RealtyLink’s cold storage facility will provide a vital link between Southeastern North Carolina’s consumer foods industry and global buyers and suppliers, while generating significant new jobs and investment at Pender Commerce Park.”


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