Cold storage facility coming to Pender Commerce Park

Cold storage facility rendering (Photo: Wilmington Business Development)

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A commercial real estate developer plans to build a cold storage facility at Pender Commerce Park.

RealtyLink will construct refrigerated warehouse space that will serve a third-party logistics tenant. Greater Wilmington is among five port regions where the Greenville, S.C.-based firm is building cold storage facilities.

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“We welcome this game-changing addition to our region’s inventory of industrial real estate assets,” says George Brown, chairman of the Pender County Board of Commissioners. “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.”

Specifications have not been completely finalized, though RealtyLink’s Vice President of Cold Storage Development Josh Lewis says the $40 million facility will be as large as 300,000 square feet with ceiling heights of 50 feet. It feature multiple chambers capable of storing goods at temperatures ranging from -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,” explains RealtyLink’s Thomas Eldridge, who is principal at the company’s Atlanta office. “We’re going taller with a more efficient state-of-the-art design.”

Rapid growth in exported proteins, especially pork, are among the factors leading RealtyLink to Pender Commerce Park.

“The Port of Wilmington is a fast-growing gateway, and RealtyLink is complementing that growth as we build a solution for tomorrow’s cold chain,” Eldridge says. The company is also proposing similar facilities near Mobile, Ala., Charleston, S.C., Houston, Tex. and at an inland port terminal in Gainesville, Ga.

Refrigerated, or “reefer,” container balance within the port cities is a major challenge.

“Building a customer base that has an even blend of both fresh and frozen imports and exports allows the refrigerated containers to be readily accessible to the Wilmington market,” added Lewis. Wilmington is exporting vastly more refrigerated cargo than is coming into the port. “Our goal is to address the reefer imbalance within the port by attracting customers that are trying to bring fresh and frozen product to ports of entry on the U.S. East Coast and Wilmington is ready,” Lewis further stated.

Pender Commerce Park’s infrastructure and connectivity were factors that attracted the investment, according to RealtyLink’s Eldridge.

The 330-acre county-owned park is just three miles to I-140 and about 15 minutes to the Port of Wilmington.

County officials began working with WBD in the mid 2000s on a development plan for the property. In 2013, Pender Commerce Park welcomed its first tenant, Acme Smoked Fish, a New York-based seafood processor.