The Maine Port Authority (MPA) has decided to fast-track an effort to construct an even larger cold storage warehouse then was previously proposed by Americold several years ago, according to an email from Jo Coyne, a west end resident of Portland. The MPA will be the developer, using Maine taxpayer dollars to pay the bills.
- Americold proposed warehouse had storage capacity for 15,864 pallets. MPA’s proposals calls for a 33% increase to 21,131 pallets.
- Americold’s proposed warehouse was huge: 274 ft. long by 63 feet high, with lower wings totaling about 130 feet. MPA’s box is larger still: more than 440 feet by 74 feet high, except for the loading dock and office areas.
- Traffic, especially since trucking will be the major mode of transportation. Rail lines will remain as currently configured. There will be no rail spur to the building.
- Environmental impact. For example, plans are for the nearly-flat roof to the building to be white to reflect heat both into the atmosphere. No solar panels. No layer of vegetation either.
- Economics. Few port authorities get directly involved in cold storage because, as individual operators, they can’t compete with the nationally connected facilities. Can Maine afford the risk of having an overbuilt, half-empty warehouse?
- Safety. A less expensive ammonia based system of refrigeration is planned rather than the “much safer” freon system Americold was planning to use.
The new WPDZ zoning permits building heights of 55′, but allows an additional bonus of 20′ on a conditional basis.
The plan is to secure city council approval by the end of 2019 or early in 2020. Construction would begin in the spring of 2020 with completion in a year.
More to come as facts become available.