2 Years After Controversy, Maine Cold Storage Facility Project Resumes

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Two years ago, a proposal for a large cold storage facility on the western waterfront of Portland, Maine, caused a lot of concern for people living nearby.

That project, a proposal by Atlanta-headquartered Americold, ended after that company backed out of a $30 million plan it had been working on for two and a half years.

The plan involved a controversial zoning change to allow the warehouse to be built at 70 feet.

The change was eventually made, but without a major backer, the project came to a halt.

Years later, as spring 2020 approaches, a new proposal for a cold storage facility is coming to light.

Treadwell Infrastructure Capital LLC, a Maine developer, says it is taking the lead to push for a newly designed 120,000-square-foot warehouse that will be less than 75 feet high.

The design calls for a large solar array on the warehouse's roof. Otherwise, in many ways, it resembles the initial cold storage proposal.

"This really helps the Maine economy be more productive," said TFIC owner and former Maine Department of Transportation commissioner George Campbell. "It also strongly helps the agriculture industry in Maine, the seafood industry, biopharmaceuticals, anyone that needs access to a modern cold storage facility for their products."

In addition to providing employment, Campbell says the logistical cost savings for the large and small businesses using Eimskip's services in the International Marine Terminal would be significant.

But as news of the facility appeared in publications like the Portland Press Herald, critics of the previous push for the warehouse are turning their attention to the new effort.

"What we have to find, as a community, is balance between residential up here and industrial down there," said Anne Pringle, president of the Western Promenade Neighborhood Association and a longtime West End resident. "We look forward to hearing more detail."

While Pringle and others she's spoken with say the news is fresh and discussions are preliminary, she feels encouraged the developers are more familiar with Portland and Maine.

"It's exciting it's a local development team, I will say that," she said. "I think it's a clean slate."

However, Pringle noted that she and others in the area will have questions for the developers, including ones about traffic impact, how important it is to local businesses, how much noise and light the facility might generate and how big it will look once completed.

Campbell says he and his team are looking forward to engaging the community.

"We're excited to talk to any group that's interested," he said.

Right now, the new cold storage facility plans are still in permitting with the City of Portland.

Campbell says the development team hopes to have all permits secured by the end of summer and construction on the facility complete by the later part of 2021.

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