WILMINGTON — Two companies are planning to invest a total of $120 million to build 1 million square feet of industrial development in ILM’s growing business park, located on the airport campus.
County leaders and airport officials announced at a press conference Thursday commercial developers CIL Capital, LLC and Edgewater Ventures signed long-term ground leases with the intent to stay in the park for at least 30 years.
“This is not just a one-time influx of cash,” New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman, also an airport authority member, said during the conference. “These are real and lasting investments that will grow our local tax base, increase jobs and enhance economic development opportunities for our region. These companies chose New Hanover County and our ILM business park because of the possibilities it provides.”
The 140-acre complex is located on the airport campus –– near highways, rail and the Port of Wilmington –– and has access to customs and foreign-trade zone status.
“This really is a prime location,” continued Olson-Boseman, who also said she couldn’t sleep the night prior from excitement over the announcement.
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“It’s a wonderful investment in not only Wilmington but obviously the airport as well,” Donna Girardot, New Hanover County Airport Authority chairperson, said in an interview. “And I’m hoping that it will act as a catalyst to bring in future businesses, and perhaps satellite businesses as well.”
CIL Capital, LLC is developing a 500,000-square-foot storage and distribution facility for the life sciences industry. Founder and CEO Michael Hockett noted North Carolina is the second-largest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals in the U.S., yet falls in 17th place for cold storage distributors. “That says there’s a void here that somebody can fill,” Hockett said after the conference.
In recent months, plans for two other cold storage buildings were announced in the region. Cold Summit Development is pursuing a 280,000-square-foot cold storage facility on Raleigh Street near the port, and RealtyLink is developing 300,000 square feet of refrigerated warehouse space at Pender Commerce Park.
Edgewater Ventures, a commercial real estate investment firm, plans to construct a class A, speculative industrial development with three buildings. The structures will add up to over 540,000 square feet on 30 approximate acres.
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Two of the facilities will total 213,000 square feet and feature the ability to serve multiple tenants and load transport vehicles with goods from the rear. The third building, a cross-dock facility, will span 330,000-square-feet and include 180-foot deep truck courts with trailer storage.
“These are extremely nice facilities,” Chris Norvell, lead industrial development partner with Edgewater Ventures, said in an interview. “They’re state-of-the-art. They’re on par with anything you would see in any of the larger markets in the country. They certainly are going to be poised to be a great employer base, once we’ve signed leases and are bringing companies into the buildings. And given the location and everything, we think that’s gonna happen very quickly.”
The types of tenants are expected to range, from e-commerce to air cargo freight companies to any other business that may benefit from the infill and airport location.
“Typically, the most highly sought-after industrial facilities tend to be in and around airports,” Norvell said. “Because a lot of companies are trying to locate near airports, people are coming in from airports, they want easy accessibility from airports, and this location, in particular, … [i]t’s easy to get to. We just think it’s a can’t-miss.”
All three buildings will feature tilt-up concrete construction, glass lines and tall ceilings for storing products 32- to 36-feet high. Plus, the real estate group is touting early suppression, fast response sprinkler systems throughout and sufficient on-site parking for workers.
The company planned to sign the site engineering proposal later in the day, Norvell said during the conference.
In ILM’s release, Hockett explained recent investments into Wilmington’s port and airport have given the area a competitive edge over large metro areas, which are encountering issues with the supply chain and capacity. According to Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development, there is significant demand for the life science industry especially.
“The timing could not be better,” Satterfield said during the conference. “As global supply chains adjust to the post-pandemic world, multimodal transportation assets –– sites, near-ports, airports, and interstate highways –– are in greater demand than ever. In this new era, modern, strategically positioned industrial space are considered trophy properties.”
Chairperson Girardot said all parties have engaged in months of work to finalize the deals. That includes the county, Wilmington Business Development and representatives from each company. The airport authority met in closed session Wednesday night to approve the projects. (It also appointed a new airport director in the same session.)
Norvell said it’s been a roughly 20-month process to reach the point of signing the lease, which included reviewing the site, studying the market and negotiating.
“It’s a pivotal day for the greater Wilmington economy,” Satterfield continued. “These two facilities will add an exciting new dimension in the wave of high-quality industrial products that’s been coming into our region in recent years.”
The ILM Business Park is currently home to seven units of fully leased flex space, an under-construction Circle K at the corner of 23rd Street and Airport Boulevard, and a number of parcels that are still available.
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