New Orleans Cold Storage opens new warehouse

The oldest cold storage company in North America is opening a massive, new 142,000-square-foot cold storage warehouse at the Port of New Orleans on Thursday, July 19. This expansion for the 126-year-old New Orleans Cold Storage (NOCS), one of the largest suppliers to the poultry, beef, pork and other exporters in the country, will add 125 direct new jobs and generate $126 million in annual spending.

"We have reached the end of a long road traveled since Hurricane Katrina, and we are poised for growth. The storm and subsequent closing of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet made it uncertain whether we could keep operations in New Orleans open," said NOCS President and CEO Mark Blanchard. "But with the help of the State and The Port of New Orleans, we are expanding by opening our new, state-of-the art terminal at the Henry Clay Street Wharf.

The new Henry Clay facility can store 38 million pounds of perishable products and can freeze up to 1.25 million pounds of fresh product each day. Operations at the new terminal include blast freezing, handling, warehousing and stevedoring – the loading and unloading of vessels – of export poultry and beef products. The building was constructed with the latest environmentally friendly technology to cut down on energy expenses and increase efficiency. It includes LED lighting, room to berth two ships, the ability to load perishable products into containers and transfer the cargo to the Port of New Orleans container terminal for ocean transport. The new Henry Clay Wharf location is so close to the Port of New Orleans Container Terminal, overall efficiency will increase because of their close proximity.

"Primus Builders was honored to be a part of the Henry Clay Terminal project. Our team worked alongside NOCS to provide innovative solutions to climate challenges, a flexible layout and sustainable elements that will serve the Port for years to come. To help revitalize the riverfront was an amazing opportunity," said Primus Builders President and Founding Partner Richard O'Connell.

The NOCS terminal is the first design-build project the Port has ever implemented. By staying within budget on a fast-tracked schedule with McDonnel/Primus Joint Venture (MPJV) and NOCS, the completed build is becoming an example of how other Louisiana ports may expand and build in the future.

NOCS operates four facilities with more than 12 million square-feet of refrigerated space in New Orleans, Houston and Charleston, S.C. After Hurricane Katrina, more than 30 million pounds of chicken rotted in the Jourdan Road warehouse on the Industrial Canal. When the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet closed, the ability to operate at their current capacity diminished, and the future of NOCS in New Orleans was in doubt.

"Failure was not an option. We never gave up because we knew we had to build this terminal to retain cargo that is essential to the health of the Port of New Orleans," said Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange. "But this new terminal represents so much more than simply replicating the capacity we lost to Katrina. We've built stronger and smarter. Our investment will allow the Port of New Orleans and NOCS to grow its cargo volumes and offer unparalleled services to shippers."

"With Louisiana being a major producer of poultry, the expansion of N.O. Cold Storage will keep Louisiana products fresher and ready for market," said Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain. "From an economic standpoint, this provides jobs to our residents working at the storage facility, keeps our poultry industry valued at more than $ 1.6 billion dollars and it benefits our ports." Strain added, "With agriculture being one of the biggest industries in our state, we will continue to support our farmers and the industry that feeds our people."

The modern, dockside refrigerated terminal cost $40 million to design and build. Of that amount, $23.5 million came from a federal Community Development Block Grant that is part of Louisiana's Disaster Recovery Program. The remaining $16.5 million in funding came from the Port of New Orleans, which owns the terminal and leases it to NOCS.