Phase one of Cold Summit Development’s campus, under construction adjacent to the Port of Wilmington, is ahead of schedule and projected to be completed in September of this year. 

“Cold Summit Development is a pure play, developer of cold chain real estate, conceived to deliver the most forward looking, highest quality, most energy efficient, and sustainable cold storage facilities ever built,” reads the description on Cold Summit Development’s LinkedIn page. “Cold Summit is deeply committed to the communities in which we build, funding educational programs and food security programs, and partnering with local veteran organizations to provide employment opportunities to those that have served our great nation.”

In 2019, Wilmington native Scott Pertel founded Cold Summit to “innovate and deliver cold chain real estate,” according to the website. The initiative is poised to expand capabilities at North Carolina’s busiest port, enabling more commerce in frozen goods and promising positive ripple effects for economic development.

“They’re looking to highlight those kinds of carriers and tenants that are going to bring more cold to the area and Wilmington had had a lack of cold storage capability when we started the dialogue, so it was a natural fit,” said Eric Casey, Executive Vice President of Ports for Cold Summit Development told the Carolina Journal during a phone interview. “It was just a really synergistic thing, and it frankly went to the heart of Scott [Pertel] really wanted to do something in the town that he called his home.” 

Photo Courtesy of Cold Summit Development.
Cold Summit Campus at the Port of Wilmington.

The campus of Cold Summit Development is about a mile and a half away from the port gate. 

“We are building phase one of our cold campus, so our phase one is about 300,000 square feet,” said Casey. “Our 300,000 square feet that we’re building now can handle fresh, frozen, floral, pharmaceutical resources, etc. It also has the capability to blast freeze, which means we can take proteins like chicken or pork, and we can freeze it, blast freeze it to where it will then be able to be exported.”

Cold Summit development is also in discussions concerning a second phase for potential construction. 

“We have an option to build a phase two, which is another 160,000 square feet, which we’re actually in dialogue with the board about, and it will have the capability, that 160,000 square feet, to do more specialized refrigeration, if required for the port, and we think it will be required because we’re already getting interest in that,” said Casey. 

Unlike phase one, phase two has the potential to be “rail-served.” This means it would have intermodal rail connectivity to move products in from, and out to the Midwest, rather than just by truck.

“So it has rail capability, but we’re also looking at the potential for having specific, if needed, fumigation or radiation capability, or if pharmaceuticals need special requirements, we can build that into phase two,” said Casey. “It’s just an option for more flexibility for the port to attract different clients. […] We can do anything that they need to function in this space we can go from, in all of our facilities, negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which would be what you would use for ice cream, frozen concentrates, dairy, all the way up to 55-56 ambient degree temperatures which is where you get into, you know, bananas and other things like that, that have very specific requirements. So we can do all of it in all of our facilities, and we can change the temperature within just a couple of days and each one of our individual suites so that we can continue to modify whatever cargoes are coming in. But some entities need very specific and stringent requirements. We have that capability to build that into their suite as well. That’s why we’re offering two separate buildings so that the port can advertise to have more clients.”

As phase one breaks out ahead of schedule, phase two remains on the drawing board. 

“Phase two, we have the rough drawings on, and we have what we feel would be the rail requirements, but we have not put it out yet to potential tenants,” said Casey. “In fact, we’re just discussing with the port what they would like to see and what it would look like for us in order to build that space. But we have not gone forward on phase two, because we’ve been focusing on making sure that phase one is going to arrive on time. We pride ourselves in being on or under budget and ahead of schedule in everything we deliver.”

In addition to Cold Summit’s campus at the port, North Carolina State Ports Authority itself is working on its own expansion of cold infrastructure.

“So NC ports has three phases that they were doing for their cold storage infrastructure on the terminal, on the port, completely separate from our two phases that we’re doing on our cold campus,” said Casey. “NC ports is actually finishing phase three of their cold infrastructure. They’ve put in new refrigerated plugs. They’ve put in new racks, they have new storage areas on port, on terminal, for cold storage.”

Together, the projects represents an all-out push to make the Port of Wilmington a more comprehensive node of commerce for the Carolinas and beyond.

“The great thing about NC ports it has extremely fast operational service, and it’s got great access to market, meaning you can get to the Midwest, which is a primary market for specifically import produce and products and then also pulling exports out,” exclaimed Casey. “It is fast in and out of the terminal, with little to no congestion, and with the infrastructure improvements that they’ve done, the new cranes, etc., it can handle big ships, 10,000-12,000 container ships now can go into the port and be serviced appropriately. So it really is meeting the demands of the maritime industry as a whole.”

In conjunction with NC Ports, the facilities built by Cold Summit Development will bring more jobs and economic development into the state.

Photo Courtesy of Cold Summit Development.
Part of Cold Summit Campus at the Port of Wilmington.

“It’s going to bring more product into and out of North Carolina which means more revenue,” said Casey. “We also are very supportive of the community. We give 5% of our top line revenue, not profit, but our top line revenue to the community. In order to support education and people’s needs inside of that community. So the community in itself is going to be the beneficiary over and above the revenue, the income and all of that other stuff. They’re going to be the beneficiary of some monies in order to help support and foster improving the economic area around our facility as well, and we do that in all our facilities in the United States.”

Cold Summit invests back into the community in other ways, too, says Casey. Cold Summit stewards the community by taking care of the land around it, making for a “world-class facility.” 

“We’re also going to take care of the people that are there as well because we believe in a holistic approach to what we do,” said Casey. 

The Cold Summit Campus at the Port of Wilmington, NC is an investor funded project.