Cold Storage Facility Approved for Portland Waterfront

Planning Board Approval for $30million Maine International Cold Storage Facility for Emskip

Artist’s rendition of cold storage facility on Fore River. Note rail sidings with Emskip containers to right of warehouse.

The Portland Planning Board on Tuesday approved the 120,000-square-foot Maine International Cold Storage warehouse proposed at the port.

The Maine Port Authority and Emskip (which has weekly container ships to Portland from Europe) have pushed the plan for a number of years, lining up developer Treadwell Franklin Infrastructure of Yarmouth and investment firm, Amber Infrastructure.  A previous 2015 plan would have been developed by Americold, which withdrew from the project in 2018.

Forty percent of the space would be used by Emskip.  The remainder would serve Maine food exporters (especially seafood, potatoes and blueberries) and local food consumption.

An existing Americold cold storage facility is in Portland on Read Street, but cold storage facilities in Boston and the port of Everett represent the biggest competition.

The planning board voted 6-0 to approve the Maine International Cold Storage Facility site plan, to be built at 40 West Commercial Street.  The project conforms with existing zoning and benefits from a recent height limit increase.

$8 million has already been invested in the project by the Maine Department of Transportation including project design.  The state funds will be paid back, first with an initial payment representing the $800,00 design cost and the remainder over thirty years through lease payments on the state owned land on which it sits.  The cold storage facility has a 50 year lease on the 18 acre property.

George Campbell, TFIC chair, told the Portland Phoenix in July that their project is “well-capitalized and well-researched,” and that they are confident the financial numbers work well. The team has the private capital it needs, he said, and will not be seeking public incentives through Opportunity Zone funding or tax-increment financing.

The facility could store up to 20,000 pallets of food and could be subdivided in

The building would be 350 feet long, 290 feet wide, and 74 feet tall at its peak, with 74,000 square feet of cold storage space, and offices.

accommodate customers from Maine’s growing food, beverage and biopharmaceutical industries. Freight volume on Portland’s waterfront has grown by an average of 25 percent annually since

In 2019, more than 28,600 container units passed through Portland, about quadruple the volume in 2013.

70 trucks a day are expected, Darrin Stairs of project consultant Woodard & Curran told the planning board.  About 75 percent of those, he said, would be expected between 6 a.m. and noon.  There will be 12 truck docks.  The warehouse will be adjacent to rail loading but won’t have it’s own spur.

{Portland Herald, October 13}

{Portland Phoenix, July 1}

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Associate Editor; Consultant for Rail Planning & Development
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Christopher has 15 years of railroad experience, starting as a Conductor on Cape Cod and 15 years of public policy advocacy and outreach work. Christopher is Executive Director of Vermont Rail Action Network, communicating the vision of better trains to elected and government officials, community leaders and the public. Christopher is a consultant for freight and passenger planning and development projects including operating planning, federal grant applications, marketing, and public outreach.