By: Karen Brune Mathis
Karis Cold is pursuing plans to prepare more than 24 acres in Westlake Industrial Park to develop a warehouse, joining the movement by refrigeration and freezer companies into Northeast Florida.
The city and the St. Johns River Water Management District are reviewing plans for the Florida-based company to develop a cold storage warehouse on a wooded and undeveloped site along Pritchard Road in West Jacksonville.
The plans are for early clearing and mass grading of the site.
Senior Director Ken Verne said Oct. 7 that Karis Cold hopes to buy the land in the first quarter of 2023 and start construction soon after for completion in the first half of 2024.
“We are building the project on spec however we have several potential tenants that have already expressed interest,” he said by email.
Verne said in October that Newmark Phoenix Realty Group President John Richardson and Senior Vice President Bryan Bartlett are the brokers who will be representing Karis.
“We have had our eyes on Jacksonville for over a year due to the proximity to the port and Jax being a gateway to the eastern coast of Florida along with great access heading north,” Verne said in October.
A summary included with civil engineering plans submitted April 21 describe the project as 265,264 square feet of cold storage, loading dock and office space.
It says the proposed building will include two large convertible storage rooms, two loading docks with 40 dock doors and two sections of office space areas.
An apron will be constructed on the eastern side of the building for tractor trailer access to the loading dock doors.
The trailer drop-off/staging area on the east side will have capacity for about 62 trailers.
A driveway and fire access road will loop around the building from the north side of the apron to the south side and will provide access to Pritchard Road.
There will be a combined capacity of 156 parking spaces on the north and south sides of the proposed building.
The plans also show a Norfolk Southern rail spur on the west side of the building serving two rail docks. There are docks for trucks on the east side.
There also are two offices on each side of the building, indicating that the project could serve two tenants.
Norfolk Southern owns the property through Westlake Land Management Inc.
The Norfolk, Virginia-based transportation company owns the Westlake park and has been selling land there for development.
The site is referred to as Parcel 38, which is near Suddath, Southeast Toyota Distributors and BJ’s Wholesale Club centers. The property is along Pritchard Road about 4.5 miles west of Interstate 295
Colliers International Northeast Florida Executive Director Guy Preston and Associate Director Seda Preston represent the landowner, Westlake Land Management Inc., a property ownership affiliate of railroad company Norfolk Southern Corp.
A conceptual site plan for Karis Cold shows two suites with a future rail dock along a Norfolk Southern rail line.
The civil engineering and water management plans are for the clearing, pond excavation and mass grading of the project site in preparation for development.
Prosser Inc. is the civil engineer. DSI South LLC, part of Chicago-based Development Solutions Inc., is shown as the general contractor.
Karis Cold is based in Naples with satellite offices in suburban Chicago and Denver.
Kariscold.com describes it as a private investment and development company with expertise in the cold storage industry.
It invests in and develops properties across the U.S. “with a platform covering the entire spectrum of cold storage development and investment including build-to-suit solutions, sale leaseback financing, and expansions and redevelopment of existing facilities.”
South Carolina project
A recent project provides an example of a project.
In January, Constructionreviewonline.com reported that construction began on the Karis Cold storage facility in Rock Hill, South Carolina, about 27 miles south of Charlotte, North Carolina,
It reported that developer, Karis Cold expects the facility to be set for delivery by the first quarter of 2024.
The 277,785-square-foot cold storage speculative facility will have convertible freezers, 28 dock doors with two drive-in doors and 47 trailer parking stalls.
It also gives future tenants access to 147 regular parking spaces.
The location is near the Port of Charleston.
Karis Cold awarded JLL the exclusive leasing assignment for the facility.
Kariscold.com lists nine projects comprising existing, under construction and available land for build-to-suit tenants among six states.
It shows three in Colorado, two in Illinois and South Carolina and one each in Florida, Tennessee and Virginia.
In Florida, its lists a Daytona Beach project of 807,585 square feet among three buildings on about 68 acres. It says the project is under construction with delivery in the first quarter of 2024.
Clients include Artico Cold Storage, Ealge Road Distributing Co., Americold and Moesle Meat.
Cold storage growth in Jacksonville
Karis Cold would be the fourth refrigeration and cold storage developer to start a project in Jacksonville since 2021.
The first three, all in North Jacksonville near JaxPort’s Blount Island Marine Terminal, won City Council incentives for the projects.
• Arcadia Cold Storage & Logistics, Primus Builders Inc. and Saxum Real Estate broke ground April 18 on an almost $87 million cold-storage center 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.
City Council voted 17-0 on Aug. 24 to approve Resolution 2022-0617 to provide a five-year, 50% Recapture Enhanced Value Grant property tax refund 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.
• FlexCold LLC already is enlarging its new North Jacksonville cold storage warehouse.
Council increased a property tax refund to $2.5 million for FlexCold LLC as it expands.
In January, Council approved Resolution 2023-0015 that includes the REV grant property that is expected to be a $115 million, 346,000-square-foot facility at 11180 Blasius Road.
FlexCold announced Oct. 20 it opened the 150,000-square-foot Phase 1 of the cold-storage warehouse.
The city is reviewing a permit application for ARCO Design/Build to add 171,583 square feet of space.
Council previously approved a REV grant capped at $1.1 million in April 2021 for the project before the South Carolina-based international frozen protein distributor announced it would enlarge its Jacksonville facility.
FlexCold told the city the expanded facility would create 40 full-time jobs, up from 20 in the original agreement, with an average annual wage of $55,422 plus benefits. It must have the jobs in place by Dec. 31, 2025, to receive the grant.
• New Jersey-based cold-storage company FreezPak Logistics is building a $116 million warehouse at 8730 Somers Road.
In August, Council approved Resolution 2022-0618 for a REV grant capped at $3 million to FreezPak parent company BGFP Jacksonville LLC. The company told city officials its cold-storage and distribution facility would have at least 80 employees by year-end 2026.
FreezPak would pay an average annual wage of $56,000 plus benefits.
Freezpak.com says FreezPak Logistics, a third-party food logistics company, announced the Jacksonville project will be a 272,400-square-foot temperature-controlled warehouse and is set to break ground this year.
BG Capital, a Philadelphia-based real estate investment and development company, is the developer.
Why here and why now
At the groundbreaking, Chris Hughes, president and CEO of Atlanta-based Arcadia Cold Storage & Logistics, cited U.S. demand or cold storage, particularly new, contemporary, well-built warehouses.
He said growth is driven by two factors.
The first is the growth in retail grocery demand over 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.
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.