N.C. Ports has put out a call for interest in the construction of a state-of-the-art, near-port refrigerated warehouse in the Wilmington area, according to ports documents.
The authority is seeking interest from refrigerated warehouse builders and operators to facilitate the potential project, states a Request for Expressions of Interest
(REOI) document from mid-October.
The request is in the initial phase of a discovery process to support the project's development. "The decision on the next phase of the process and when it will commence will be made and announced by North Carolina Ports at [a] time to be determined," stated the document.
N.C. Ports is currently taking questions related to the REOI through Nov. 15.
The refrigerated commodities industry at the Port of Wilmington has been targeted and supported by the N.C. Ports' efforts and planning, officials said.
Next week, N.C. Ports will host in Wilmington its Cold Chain Summit: The Big Chill
, which will bring together farmers, food manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and more, to discuss a variety of topics on the global cold chain industry. The event is the third cold chain summit the ports have held in Wilmington.
And this summer, N.C. Ports started a $14 million project to triple the Port of Wilmington's refrigerated container capacity
by early 2020. That project is taking place on port property, within the boundaries of its terminal. The infrastructure, when complete, will add more plugs for refrigerated containers and reduce space on port grounds by stacking the containers.
In addition, the Port of Wilmington already leases just over 4 acres for the operation of the 101,000-square-foot, privately owned Port of Wilmington Cold Storage (PWCS) facility.
"Port of Wilmington Cold Storage is an important component of North Carolina Ports’ perishables portfolio and is critical to our success as a cold gateway," said Bethany Welch, spokeswoman for N.C. Ports, in an email. "A potentially new chilled storage facility would complement PWCS and enable Wilmington to offer additional support to the growing North Carolina agriculture and grocery sectors."
There are several properties in and around the Wilmington area that could be suitable for a refrigerated storage warehouse building, port officials said in the REOI.
The document states that "North Carolina customers must use other ports, due to lack of refrigerated (fresh) warehouse space near the port of Wilmington."
One proposed location, the document states, is on Raleigh Street, less than a mile from the Port of Wilmington and includes 76 acres for development.
"The Raleigh Road property is available, preferably as a ground lease, with a stipulation that development must be functionally related and subordinate to the port facilities (i.e., requires an import/export function through the Port of Wilmington)," states the document.
Submissions for N.C. Ports' REOI are due Jan. 17.