Portland’s approval of a $30 million cold-storage facility in the city’s West End could make Maine a major hub for frozen food shipped between Europe and the U.S., the Portland Press Herald reported.
The city planning board’s 6-0 vote on Tuesday will allow the Icelandic cargo hauler Eimskip to store up to 20,000 pallets of food at a high-tech refrigerator warehouse to be built on Commercial Street. With the new facility, European cargo shippers who would otherwise have to temporarily store food in Boston can deliver it here, the Press Herald reported.
Portland has tried to market the city waterfront to large food transportation shippers before. Atlanta-based Americold dropped plans to build a similar facility in 2018, citing high construction and operational costs. It successfully bid for the site in 2015.
A facility like this could bring more than 950 jobs to the Portland area and eventually generate an annual economic impact of $171 million, according to a report by the Port Authority.
Some 80 West End residents opposed the project. They questioned the wisdom of using waterfront space “for more than a hundred million pounds of frozen peas and pizza, chicken nuggets and corn-dogs and not for fresh locally caught bait fish,” Mainebiz reported.
Eimskip, which moved to Portland seven years ago, has helped Portland’s freight volume increase 25 percent annually since 2013, the Press Herald reported.
The new facility could open in 2022. The company told Mainebiz last month that it hoped to begin construction in December.