[caption id="attachment_234853" align="aligncenter" width="776"] The Dover Planning Commission approved plans for a 165,000-square-foot, climate-controlled warehouse, codenamed Project Smart, in Garrison Oak in November. | PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY OF DOVER[/caption]
DOVER — A cold storage warehouse could be coming to Garrison Oak Business and Technology Park in Kent County, adding more inventory in the First State’s growing market.The Dover Planning Commission approved plans for a 165,000-square-foot, climate-controlled warehouse, codenamed Project Smart, in Garrison Oak earlier this month. Structured Liquidity Solutions (SLS) Partners, an Israeli asset management firm, aims to build the largest warehouse in that industrial park in the new year.“This will be the first cold-storage warehouse built in Kent County in a very long time,” Kent Economic Partnership Executive Director Linda Parkowski told the Delaware Business Times. “Since it’s built on spec, I think that the partners are open to any possibility at this point.”To date, the 390-acre industrial park has two existing tenants — Advantech and Uzin Utz— and neither are larger than 55,000 square feet in size.Plans filed with the city show office space and 33 loading docks as well as 118 parking spaces for employees. At its tallest point, the climate-controlled warehouse will be 100-feet tall.Details are scant on SLS Partners. Its LinkedIn states that it was formed in 2021 and is a financial services business that “creates credit-oriented solutions for the venture ecosystem” such as asset-backed financing for venture companies and debt and equity investments.Dover’s contracted broker for Garrison Oak, Jeff Spiegelman of The Commercial Moving Experience, declined to comment further on the identity of the prospective buyer, except to note that the 11.5-acre lot was under contract and extended its closing date.“We’re marketing Garrison Oak on many platforms, and a company representative of the partnership reached out to me to see if we could work together for their needs,” Spiegelman told DBT. “We’ve been in negotiations and have an aim to have a shovel in the ground by mid-2024.”The climate-controlled warehouse would be a short drive to Delaware Route 1, as the rising industrial park is 10 minutes from the entrance and exit ramps to the state highway via Route 8. Garrison Oak has been gaining traction in the warehouse sector since the end of 2022, but this will mark a rare addition of a high-value distribution center to the state’s central county.“We have a tremendous need for this, because we have so many straight warehouses in central Delaware. Some of our businesses are using cold-storage sites in Philadelphia and Baltimore and I’m sure they’d love to bring it closer,” Parkowski said.In Delaware, companies have been interested in the state’s inventory of cold storage warehouses due to its proximity to Interstate 95 and the Port of Wilmington. In October, Agile Cold Storage broke ground on its $170 million warehouse in Claymont, and representatives cited the location’s short drive to the port as a main attraction.“It’s a hot market for cold storage,” Spiegelman told DBT with a laugh. “We’ve been hearing for years that there’s a need across the state, and we’re definitely in a good position, geographically, for it with the short drive to Philadelphia, New York and other markets that make it ideal for supplying restaurants, supermarkets and even hospitals.”Project Smart also breezed past the state’s Preliminary Land Use Service (PLUS) thanks to a bill Gov. John Carney signed earlier this year. As part of a package of bills designed to expedite the permitting process for major projects, HB 104 exempts projects in key investment areas near Wilmington or surrounding Delaware’s major municipalities served by highways.The Office of State Planning Coordination granted the exemption for the cold-storage warehouse in October, noting that the warehouse was an important economic development project. The letter, written by Director David Edgell, also pointed out that the warehouse is an “important component of multiple freight and economic development studies in the area, such as the Dover Air Cargo Freight Access Study.”But Spiegelman noted that despite the “great partnership” with local and state officials on this facility, the greater economic conditions still hamper how fast construction can start.“The contract was extended because the partnership is looking for key improvements on the site, mainly on the substation,” he said, referencing a federally-backed substation that would generate 100 megawatts. “From what I understand, that’s been delayed because they’re waiting on one component.”
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