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October 14, 2020

Portland cold storage plan moves ahead

Rendering showing future warehouse facility with trees in the foreground Rendering / Courtesy CWS Architects and Woodard & Curran Rendering of the future freezer warehouse facility on Portland's waterfront.

A planned cold-storage facility on Portland's waterfront is clear to move ahead after the Portland Planning Board on Tuesday evening gave its unanimous approval to the plan.

The plan comes from a consortium led by Icelandic-owned Eimskip USA, joined by Yarmouth-based Treadwell Franklin Infrastructure, U.K.-based Amber Infrastructure and Portland-based engineering firm Woodard & Curran. The consortium submitted its plan in February, 21 months after Americold abruptly yanked plans to design and build a warehouse itself.

Since the current plan is not subject to a vote by City Council, the next step is for the developer to issue a request for proposals for a design build contractor, Jonathan Nass, CEO of the Maine Port Authority based at the International Marine Terminal, told Mainebiz Wednesday morning.

Nass said the planned facility will be significant not just for Portland but for the state as a whole.

Jonathan Nass at IMT with cranes and containers in the background
File photo / Renee Cordes
Jonathan Nass, CEO of the Maine Port Authority, at the International Marine Terminal in Portland.

"Climate controlled warehousing capacity at the IMT will grow the Maine Port Authority’s continued niche in cold-chain logistics," he said. "This warehouse, combined with other investments, will ensure that the IMT will provide Maine businesses with robust, local and inexpensive access to markets throughout the world for decades to come.”  

Quincy Hentzel, president and CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, also welcomed the news of the project moving forward.

“The Maine International Cold Storage Facility will help grow and support our working waterfront with modernized infrastructure and promote the Port of Portland as an economic engine for the state of Maine," Hentzel told Mainebiz Wednesday morning.

In a recent "On the Record" interview with Mainebiz, Hentzel said the picture for Portland businesses described the Roux Institute — a newcomer to Portland's waterfront, in a building on the city's East End leased from corporate payments provider WEX Inc. — as a "game-changer' for the state. Proponents of the planned freezer warehouse see that as another game-changer.

Last month, Treadwell Franklin Chairman and partner George Campbell told Mainebiz that construction costs may be higher than a previous estimate six months earlier of $25 million to $38 million.

"We may not get construction prices that are affordable," he told Mainebiz in early September. "If you've ever rehabbed a house, construction prices can sometimes scare you."

He could not immediately be reached for an update on the construction cost estimate.

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