RL Cold, the largest cold chain developer in the nation, broke ground on a $100 million cold chain storage facility in the Pender Commerce Park Thursday.
The investment is being constructed on a 29-acre site in the commerce park off U.S. 421. At nearly 285,000 square feet, the facility will be among the most modernized and sustainable cold chain storage products on the market, officials said at a groundbreaking ceremony. Evans General Contractors is heading up construction on the project, which was designed as an import-export hub for refrigerated cargo delivered through the Port of Wilmington, according to RL Cold.
RealtyLink principal Philip Wilson said the building is already tentatively fully leased, per a verbal agreement with a partner the business has worked with in other markets. Wilson anticipates inking the deal soon, he said. With a full build-out planned for May 2023, RL Cold will own and lease the facility, which is being planned to facilitate the state’s growing agricultural and perishable sectors.
Port of Wilmington chief operating officer Doug Vogt said in March, the port saw its highest refrigerated cargo volume in history. The port continues to make extensive capital investments to support refrigerated volumes, including a nearly $26 million project approved last month to further expand its reefer yard. "North Carolina ports' refrigerated volume has grown over 300% in the last four years," Vogt said.
At the ceremony, Wilson said he previously worked in retail development for decades before pivoting to focus on cold storage a few years ago. "I want to thank everyone in Wilmington for embracing our company,” Wilson said.
Company officials lauded the work of economic development partners with Wilmington Business Development (WBD) for being instrumental in realizing the project and Pender County elected leaders for supporting the endeavor.
“We would not be here today without those guys,” RL Cold principal Thomas Eldridge said of WBD representatives. “Having officials that support you and believe in you is critical.”
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