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Lineage Logistics latest to expand Charleston port’s cold storage

Lineage Logistics latest to expand Charleston port’s cold storage

Port of Charleston, South Carolina, US: More than five years in the making, Wednesday saw the official opening of the Lineage Logistics cold store in North Charleston, reports the Post and Courier.

“It’s been a long, long time a-coming, but folks it’s here,” said mayor Keith Summey during a ceremony to mark the completion of this area’s largest refrigerated distribution center for import and exports of meat, poultry, vegetables and other temperature-sensitive products through the Port of Charleston.

Bill Hudson (center), former chief executive of the Global Cold Chain Alliance, was on hand on Wednesday to tour the new Lineage cold storage distribution center on Palmetto Commerce Parkway in North Charleston. Photo: Wade Spees

Bill Hudson (center), former chief executive of the Global Cold Chain Alliance, was on hand on Wednesday to tour the new Lineage cold storage distribution center on Palmetto Commerce Parkway in North Charleston. Photo: Wade Spees

At 180,000-square-feet, with the capability of nearly doubling that size through expansion, the Lineage site in Palmetto Commerce Park gives the State Ports Authority access to more than 600,000 square feet of refrigerated storage space at four locations.
Just two years ago, this area had less than one-fifth such space. Already, the blast freezer at the Lineage site is running at full capacity.

“Finally, we’ve been able to get this project off the ground and started, and it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity for creating jobs, more work for the port and tax revenue that we can use to do projects in the city, county and state,” Summey said.

Jim Newsome, the SPA’s president and CEO, called Wednesday’s opening “one of the most important days of my time at the port.”
Newsome said the $150 million chilled warehouse is the final component of infrastructure that will let the port boost its refrigerated cargo volume. Refrigerated items passing through the Port of Charleston has increased by about 40 percent since 2011, and Newsome said he expects that number to double in coming years.

“Charleston has emerged as the port of choice for many ship lines due to the ease of use and the natural improved infrastructure that can handle the ships of today and of the future,” said Mike McClendon, Lineage’s vice president of optimization and integration. “So the value of this location cannot be underestimated as we move forward.”

The facility is capable of loading or unloading up to 100 trucks per day, can store 50 million pounds of product and is served by a Norfolk Southern rail line. It is expected to create about 80 jobs.

While the project has been on the books for years, it wasn’t always a sure thing.

“I wouldn’t say there were never any doubts,” said Marc Malone, former vice president of Millard Refrigerated Services, which initially agreed to build the warehouse. “In these types of projects, you have ups and you have downs. You think maybe it’s not going to happen as quick as you want. But you keep driving because it makes so much sense.”

Newsome recalls meeting with Malone, now a vice president with Lineage, as far back as 2010 to discuss the project. By 2013, the Omaha, Neb.-based company was ready to move forward and purchased the property the following year. Then, things suddenly went quiet.

“They weren’t telling us anything and we thought, ‘This is strange’,” Newsome said. “What we didn’t know is that they were being acquired by Lineage.”

The nation’s second-largest cold storage firm, Lineage saw the same opportunity in Charleston that had initially attracted Millard. Malone said he met with Lineage officials in Richmond, Va, as the acquisition was in the works and it didn’t take long to convince them to complete the warehouse under the new ownership.

“That day, after about eight hours, we had a unanimous vote to continue with this project,” he said.

Wednesday’s opening comes on the heels of a January expansion at the New Orleans Cold Storage facility on Remount Road and joins two other sites — one in Summerville operated by Agro Merchants Group and Tides Enterprises in Mount Pleasant.

The SPA also is spending $18.5m to upgrade refrigerated cargo facilities at its docks. That includes a new refrigerated cargo yard and more electric outlets for refrigerated boxes at the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant, the port’s largest container terminal. Newsome is looking to increase that terminal’s refrigerated cargo capacity by about 20%.

Among the cold cargo moving through the port is poultry headed to Asia, beef shipped from Australia for use in U.S. fast-food restaurants and citrus bound for France.

Lineage’s new distribution center includes technologies for energy conservation, product handling and high-capacity blast freezing. Services at the facility include rail and transload, blast freezing, import/export and custom labeling and stamping. The 21-acre lot has 30 truck doors and four rail doors, as well as parking for 100 vehicles.

The Charleston region has four cold storage warehouses totaling 640,000 square feet handling imports and exports through the Port of Charleston:

  • Lineage Logistics, North Charleston: 180,000-square feet expandable to 340,000 square feet
  • Agro Merchants, Summerville: 120,000 square feet
  • New Orleans Cold Storage, North Charleston: 140,000 square feet
  • Tides Enterprises, Mount Pleasant: 60,000 square feet

Source: State Ports Authority