With bulldozers and other construction equipment providing the soundtrack, partners broke ground April 18 on an almost $87 million North Jacksonville cold-storage center.
“We are bullish on this site,” said Chris Hughes, president and CEO of Arcadia Cold Storage & Logistics, before the event in Imeson International Industrial Park.
The 332,701-square-foot food distribution center is under construction on 32.37 acres at 9765 N. Main St. at North Main Street and Van Dyck Road in Imeson International Industrial Park.
Arcadia will lease the center from Saxum Real Estate, which is developing the project.
The city approved a construction permit April 6 for Primus Builders Inc. of Woodstock, Georgia, to build the center at a project cost of $60.77 million.
Hughes and Saxum Acquisitions Principal Sean Gilbert said the building should be completed by April 2024.
About a third of the facility will be shell space for a future tenant.
Arcadia will lease 216,297 square feet of the building. The remaining 116,404 square feet is available for lease.
Saxum Real Estate, Arcadia Cold Storage & Logistics and Primus Builders Inc. hosted the groundbreaking.
Representatives of the development group were joined by JAXUSA Partnership and JaxPort executives to explain the project’s value.
Rick Schiappacasse, JaxPort director of forest products and specialty cargoes, said that as the population grows, so does consumer demand and the growth of refrigerated cargo. Several cold-storage companies are developing Northeast Florida projects.
“JaxPort is Florida’s largest container port, and refrigerated cargo is an important segment of our container business. Over the last few years we’ve added nearly 800,000 square feet of refrigerated cargo space,” he said.
“All of this new space has put us on the industry’s map. Jacksonville is quickly becoming a refrigerated cargo hub in the Southeast, and for good reason.”
Schiappacasse said that as the Southeast U.S. grows, so does consumer demand for fresh and frozen food.
“Over the long term, the facility will also provide additional capacity to help us accommodate cargo volume growth,” he said. “More capacity means more cargo, more cargo means more local jobs.”
John Freeman, director of business development and Global Business Initiatives with JAXUSA Partnership, said those attending could “hear and see progress” at the site.
He said JAXUSA, the economic development division of JAX Chamber, has been seeing a lot of activity in what he calls cold-chain infrastructure.
“We are seeing so much activity in this space, the creation of what I’ll call this cold-chain infrastructure that is in Jacksonville that can reach half of the U.S. population in a second-day trucking scenario, about 100 million customers in about a same-day trucking scenario, and we are so grateful and appreciative for your investment here,” Freeman said.
Hughes said Arcadia would hire 65 to 70 full-time employees when operations begin.
Hughes said the project would be Arcadia’s first port-located project and plans to have 20-25 of the facilities across the country in the next six or seven years. The center is 8 miles from JaxPort’s Blount Island Marine Terminal.
He said the facility also will be the sixth Arcadia location that will be operational between this summer and the first quarter of 2024.
“There’s a lot of demand in the United States, in case you’re not aware, for cold storage, particularly new, contemporary, well-built cold storage,” Hughes said.
The growth is driven by two factors, he said.
The first is the growth in retail grocery demand the past five years, especially a 16% to 17% annual increase in perishable and frozen products.
He said part of that demand was driven by the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in shutdowns that forced people to stay home and eat their meals there.
Another part of the demand is from people who became more comfortable ordering groceries online.
“By and large it’s just the sheer gap of supply and demand,” he said.
Hughes said Arcadia was focused on building a network to serve tenants who need a place to store and distribute refrigerated and frozen food.
Saxum Principal Kieran Flanagan thanked those in attendance to see the start of construction of the building.
“We can’t wait to fill it up and do business down here.”
There are 32 loading docks, 62 trailer storage spaces and 109 parking spaces.
Saxum is a vertically integrated investment and development firm with a portfolio of more than 2.6 million square feet of cold storage development. It is based in Summit, New Jersey.
It formed Jacksonville Imeson PropCo LLC in November 2021 for the North Jacksonville project. It bought the land for $6 million July 27, 2022, from Industrial Park Investments Inc. and Imeson International Industrial Park Inc. Those are led by Dan Webb in Orlando.
Bryan Bartlett, principal and senior vice president of Jacksonville-based Newmark Phoenix Realty Group, represented Saxum in the purchase.
City Council voted 17-0 on Aug. 24 to approve Arcadia Cold Jacksonville LLC to lease and invest $86.5 million in a refrigerated distribution facility in Imeson International Industrial Park.
Office Executive Director Kirk Wendland told the Council Finance Committee on Aug. 16 the company will lease the cold-storage space from the building owner and Arcadia affiliate Saxum Real Estate.
Resolution 2022-0617 provides a five-year, 50% REV grant to Arcadia capped at $2 million. In exchange, the company says the facility would create 60 jobs at an average annual wage of $50,500 plus benefits by Dec. 31, 2027.