Massive Lynden cold storage plant nearly complete

The Preferred Freezer building was nearing completion Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 in Lynden, Wash.
The Preferred Freezer building was nearing completion Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 in Lynden, Wash. The Bellingham Herald

When Preferred Freezer Services decided to build a huge cold storage facility in Lynden, it came with a caveat: the project needed to be completed within a few months in order to have a chance to handle the fall harvest.

It appears they will reach that goal.

With construction nearly complete, the company is planning for a Sept. 8 opening of the more than 330,000-square-foot facility, said Delaney Butler, a spokeswoman for the the company. She said the company already has a number of customers lined up to put their product in cold storage.

The $32 million Lynden facility is on Main Street, west of Guide Meridian. When project plans were announced at the end of March, the company and city understood the work would be under a tight construction timeline. Within days, up to 40 trucks an hour were taking gravel to the site, averaging around 15,000 tons a day.

The company isn’t slowing down, either: It recently submitted a conditional use permit for a 130,000-square-foot addition. That would be a more automated warehouse area, 75 feet tall, on the north side of the property, said Amy Harksell, Lynden’s planning director. A building that tall will require a public meeting, which will take place the first part of September, she said.

Working with the company on a tight construction deadline went well, Harksell said, adding that the city made it clear what they needed in order to meet those deadlines.

“They didn’t balk at any of our requirements; they got us what we needed,” she said.

There were a few hiccups when it came to construction work hours and how it impacted some neighbors, but that eventually got worked out, she said.

The extra truck traffic was basically a non-issue last spring, said Gary Vis, executive director of Lynden Chamber of Commerce. He couldn’t recall any backups that slowed residents down.

“As far as most people were concerned, it was just another construction project,” he said.

While it may be just another construction project, the warehouse is expected to be a big deal for the local farming and fishing industries, which rely on cold storage to quickly freeze food to maintain quality and freshness.

Much of the area’s harvest, particularly raspberries and blueberries, is shipped across the country. Along with an advanced refrigeration system inside the building, the facility also will have temperature-controlled loading docks.

The company has had a Work Zone Cam on its website showing construction progress. It also has a short time-lapse movie showing progress from the start to its current stage.

Reach Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BhamHeraldBiz and on Facebook at BellinghamHeraldBusiness.