Port growth spurs cargo storage deals

Refrigerated cargo containers sit at the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant .

A pair of new facilities are taking advantage of growth in containerized cargo at the Port of Charleston.

Lineage Logistics LLC said last week it has opened the region’s largest cold-storage warehouse, a 180,000-square-foot building at Palmetto Commerce Park in North Charleston. The warehouse has access to the port via U.S. Interstate 26 and a Norfolk Southern rail line.

“Charleston has it all — first-rate infrastructure, great access, a top-ranked port and a skilled workforce,” Lineage CEO Greg Lehmkuhl said in a statement. “The feedback we’ve received to date is that our newest facility is opening in the right location at the right time.”

Lineage joins a 136,000-square-foot cold storage warehouse operated by New Orleans Cold Storage in North Charleston and a 121,000-square-foot facility operated by Atlanta-based Agro Merchants Group near Summerville.

Poultry, meat and other grocery products account for more than 6 percent of the State Ports Authority’s total exports and are one of the fastest-growing cargo segments. To handle the growing numbers, the SPA plans to spend nearly $18.5 million over the next three years on improvements to its refrigerated cargo facilities, including 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.

The SPA “has worked diligently to expand our capacity for temperature-sensitive products, including investments in on-terminal capabilities and expansion of our refrigerated cargo infrastructure,” said Jim Newsome, the maritime agency’s president and CEO.

Lineage’s distribution center includes the latest technology for energy conservation, product handling and high-capacity blast freezing.

Across the Cooper River, Regal Logistics has opened a 350,000-square-foot distribution center off Clements Ferry Road near the Wando Welch. The property center gives Regal 800,000 square feet of space in the Charleston area and makes it the SPA’s largest public warehouse provider.

“The new warehouse will meet growing demand by importers and manufacturers requiring the ideal east coast ship point to supply major retailers like Walmart,” said Garry Reeves, vice president of Fife, Wash.-based Regal.

Bob Barrineau, vice president in the local office of the commercial real estate firm CBRE, said Charleston and other East Coast ports are seeing an increase in traffic due to an interest in diversification by manufacturers and logistics providers.

“This trend is expected to accelerate due to the widening of the Panama Canal,” he said.

The canal’s expansion should be completed in late June, allowing larger containerships to visit Charleston and other East Coast ports.

Regal now has 2.3 million square feet of warehouse space in major hubs nationwide, including Seattle, Los Angeles and Charleston.

Fruit of the Loom will debut its expanded Palmetto Distribution Center, more than doubling its original size, during an event Friday in Summerville. The maker of underwear and other clothing also is adding 50 jobs at the center, citing growth in its e-commerce and intimates’ businesses.

“Due to the state’s logistical capabilities, the location of our Summerville center made it the ideal place for growth,” Rick Medlin, Fruit of the Loom’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Located at 1116 Business Park Road, the 402,000 square-foot addition gives Fruit of the Loom more than 750,000-square-feet of space. The center, which has not sent anything to a landfill since 2011, will remain a landfill-free operation and is certified under the voluntary Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_