In what only can be considered a big win for both Elizabeth and Newark — as well as the still-booming industrial sector in the state — Fidelco Realty Group, Elberon Development Group and FreezPak Logistics announced Monday morning that they are breaking ground on a 140,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art freezer warehouse facility on the Elizabeth/Newark border.
The project, which will be co-developed by Fidelco and Elberon, will be located at the corner of Newark Avenue and Virginia Street, at 1029 Newark Ave. — on a parcel that has been vacant since dye and pigment manufacturer Magruder Color moved out in 2006.
The new structure, which will deliver 10.5 million cubic feet of space, 18 docks and 30,000 pallet positions, is expected to be completed in the fall of 2021, the developers said. It will create approximately 50 jobs for the area when it opens.
Marc Berson, the owner and chair of Fidelco, said the project has huge potential.
“We’re very excited about it,” he told ROI-NJ. “Refrigerated warehouses are a huge business in the industrial world today.”
The facility will provide a broad range of services, including storage and retrieval, repacking, transportation and overseas container plug-in, as well as on-site USDA, FDA and food safety and inspection service inspections.
More than that, the warehouse facility may spur more growth in the area. That’s the hope of Dave Gibbons, the president of Elberon, which has helped build in Elizabeth for generations.
“We believe this project will help revitalize an area that has been stagnant for many years, and perhaps serve as a catalyst for further redevelopment,” he said. “This development is another that validates the growing presence and success of cold storage facilities.”
Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage agreed with Gibbons. He hopes the building will spur more freezer warehouses in the area.
“We’ve been working with Elberon on the idea that we need to develop more of a freezer-type warehouse business here in our city because of the access to the port,” Bollwage told ROI-NJ. “More and more goods were coming in, and necessity of some type of freezer warehouses was going to be important to the future growth to the warehouse industry.
“Elberon has followed through on that, not only with this lease, but two other previous leases with different firms.”
Bollwage said Elizabeth’s geography makes it an ideal location for what is a niche business. Location to the port and its access to ships, not to mention its proximity to planes, trains and, yes, automobiles and trucks makes the Newark Elizabeth area perfect for more freezer facilities.
That want, however, is easier expressed than accomplished.
Berson, who has owned the property for four years, nearly gave up on the idea of having a refrigerated warehouse after two previous attempts failed to get to the finish line. He said he finally found an ideal partner in Carteret-based FreezPak, which is opening its fifth location in the state.
And Berson said he’s happy to be partnering with Elberon, a firm he has a relationship with for decades – and one with a history of building refrigerated warehouses, a complicated and costly undertaking.
“They’re more precise (because) they’re insulated,” he said. “And insulating doesn’t just mean walls and ceiling, but your floors. Everything is just different. You can’t overlook any of it or it just won’t look right.”
Berson said this project will be no exception.
“The cubic dimensions are very relevant,” he said. “This is a warehouse building that will be 75 feet high and very efficient. So, the inches matter. As we understand, we’ll be able to support some 30,000 pallet positions through this warehouse.
“Getting heavy pallets up 75 feet and bringing them down is quite a feat. There is a lot of automation and engineering that goes into this, and there is no room for error.”
FreezPak co-CEO David Saoud said the company is eager to get going.
“FreezPak Logistics looks forward to continuing our work with the great people in Elizabeth and Newark,” he said. “We will create 50 new jobs to service our clients throughout the area and provide customized distribution with 30,000 new pallet positions, expanding our import capabilities in the Northeast.”
Co-CEO Michael Saoud hinted at growth, too.
“The Elizabeth facility will be our fifth location in New Jersey, and we are already designing a sixth site for 2022 to further meet the growing needs of the food industry in the state.”