Business Blog

Huge cold storage facility to be built in north Whatcom County

A major cold storage warehouse is coming this fall to serve the local fishing and agriculture industries.

Preferred Freezer Services announced that it plans to build a 331,568-square-foot facility in Lynden, on Main Street west of Guide Meridian. That’s almost half the size of Bellis Fair mall in Bellingham. The company also has secured property nearby for possible expansion.

The facility itself will cost around $32 million to build and could employ up to 30 people on a seasonal basis, according to a company news release. Preferred Freezer expects the warehouse to be open for business in September.

It’s a big deal for the local farming and fishing industries, which rely on cold storage to quickly freeze the food to maintain quality and freshness, said Gary Vis, executive director at the Lynden Chamber of Commerce. Much of this area’s harvest, particularly raspberries and blueberries, is shipped across the country.

“We definitely have a need for a facility like this,” said Vis, adding that all the work in harvesting and fishing goes to waste if there is no place to put it. “We’re very excited about this.”

Delaney Butler, a spokeswoman for Preferred Freezer, said the company’s research indicated a storage space shortage in the area. She said other factors that weighed in Lynden’s favor was its proximity to the border, the community’s business climate and access to nearby Interstate 5.

This new facility comes at a good time for local berry farmers, who have seen record harvests in recent years. This past summer, Whatcom County farmers harvested 68.7 million pounds of raspberries, topping the previous record of 66.4 million set in 2011. The Washington Blueberry Commission estimates last summer’s blueberry harvest in Whatcom County to be 36 million pounds, well ahead of the 2013 total of 28 million pounds.

Getting it open by September would be a relatively short construction timeline. From a permitting standpoint it can be accomplished, said Amy Harksell, Lynden’s planning director.

“We’ve been working with them for the past few months,” said Harksell, noting that the property is zoned for this use and the building’s design is fairly straightforward.

Butler said they want to be ready by September so the company can receive fishing and farm products harvested between September and November.

The Lynden building will be a standard design for the company and include an advanced engineered refrigeration system, she said. Along with about 292,000 square feet of freezer space, the facility will have temperature-controlled loading docks.

“These attributes ensure the sustained quality of the customer’s product throughout the freezing process,” Butler said.

According to the company’s website, Preferred Freezer has several facilities throughout the U.S. as well as operations in China and Vietnam. It is currently building what it says is the largest facility in North America in Richland. That Washington facility will be 455,000 square feet and be 116 feet tall. The company is based in Chatham, N.J.

For more information about the Lynden warehouse, email Todd Klumok, executive vice president of business development for the company, at tklumok@preferredfreezer.com.

The company also has set up this webcam at the construction site.

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