WILMINGTON, NC (August 2022) – A nearly half-billion-dollar tranche of private capital investments in cold storage is being planned in the Wilmington region of North Carolina. Evans General Contractors is building half of the nearly 2 million square feet of planned cold storage warehouse space which equates to a quarter billion of those investment dollars.

Infographic showing Cold Storage Projects Under Construction by Evans

Of the four proposed developments, Evans will deliver two temperature-controlled facilities. Capabilities among the projects range from the option to store refrigerated and frozen goods to features geared toward the life sciences sector.

Nearby protein producers have traditionally sent their products to be exported at larger East Coast ports, according to Josh Lewis, chief strategy officer for RL Cold. “Logically, it makes more sense to send locally produced products through the Port of Wilmington. Ours [facility] addresses the import-export business for the Port of Wilmington … Essentially, you’ll have a ton of different food, all of these different customers, all under one roof.”

Evans’ other project, a two-phase speculative development by CIL Capital will be built at ILM Business Park which is strategically positioned next to the Wilmington International Airport. This one-of-a-kind project offers a different solution to import-export with a distribution operation that services deliveries from airplanes as well as traditional trucks from the port. Plans include 750,000 square feet of cold storage space for the life sciences industry with freezer space specific to storage conditions of very sensitive pharmaceutical products.

“Can the [cold storage] market support drugs and vaccines and food?” Lewis said. “I would say absolutely.”

WilmingtonBiz documented that in 2020, a $14 million investment allowed the Port of Wilmington to add 540 refrigerated container plugs, which connect the specialized containers to a power source in a dedicated container yard. In February, the ports authority authorized adding another 704 plugs in a nearly $23 million project set to be complete next year. In March, the highest refrigerated cargo volume in the port’s history was reported.

“North Carolina is experiencing rapid growth in the cold cargo sector,” authority spokesperson Christina Hallingse said. “To support this rapid growth and meet customer needs, N.C. Ports has invested in infrastructure and implemented strategic partnerships with outside entities to create more options and capacity for cold business sectors, including agriculture, food processing, grocery, and life science.”

Cold storage is a hot real estate investment sector and previously a missing component in Wilmington’s property inventory. Within the next few years, along with clients like RL Cold and CIL Capital, Evans is working to change that. Together they are meeting market demands to deliver facilities that capture refrigerated or frozen volume directly through Wilmington.