Cold storage company chooses Claymont steel mill site

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Georgia-based Agile Cold Storage has chosen Claymont as the location for a 275,000-square-foot cold-storage facility, with the Delaware Council on Development Finance endorsing a request for $4.56 million in grants.

The project will create 130 new jobs and will add up to an investment of more than $170 million over two phases during the next five years.

Agile Cold specializes in blast freezing, layer/case picking, cross-docking, export services, tempering, and e-commerce. It offers automation in warehouse receiving, storage, and shipping and a multi-temperature storage network suitable for a wide variety of products. The company’s Agile Cold Claymont division will use land in First State Crossing, a brownfield property that was formerly the site of the Evraz Claymont Steel mill.

Positions there will include management and supervisors, general laborers, forklift operators, inventory control, customer service, and maintenance. Additional jobs are likely to be added by partner providers associated with the facility.

“We are excited that Agile Cold Storage is choosing Delaware for its next facility. This will create good jobs and economic investment in Claymont,” said Gov. John Carney. “Their operations will build on Delaware’s strong food manufacturing and transportation foundation, helping our region’s supply chain.”

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The project earned an endorsement from the Claymont Renaissance Corp., a group formed as redevelopment efforts began in that area.

“The Claymont Renaissance Development Corp. (CRDC) supports the Agile Cold Storage & Distribution project and the state’s support. The project is in keeping with the master plan developed with community input,” stated Brett Saddler, executive director. “It will offer above-average salaries, hopefully for many Claymont residents. CRDC initially had concerns on potential impacts on the adjacent Knollwood neighborhood, but Agile’s noise and traffic mitigation proposals were sound and put most of the community’s minds at ease. As for more distribution centers in the Claymont area, we are thankful for the employment opportunities, but I would hope we are done.”

A separate distribution center/logistics project is planned at the former Tri-State Mall site in Claymont.

First State Crossing was envisioned as a mixed-use project with an early emphasis on office space as remediation work began on the site. However, the office market has not recovered from a trend toward a remote workforce, leading some companies to put space on the sublease market.

The cold storage company, founded in 2020, operates two facilities in the Metro Atlanta area and is planning a third in Macon. Adding an automated multi-temperature warehouse in Delaware will allow Agile Cold to expand into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast markets and help meet demand for fresh, refrigerated, frozen foods and more frequent deliveries. It also will provide infrastructure to a food supply chain challenged by aging, outdated, and energy-inefficient cold storage that lacks the height, column spacing, and multi-temperature zones required by modern food suppliers, according to a release from the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, which shepherded the project.

The site will also support business at the Port of Wilmington and future operations at the proposed container site at Edgemoor. The Port of Wilmington is a leading destination for bananas and other produce types and has cold storage sites.

“We are thankful to Agile Cold Storage for choosing New Castle County for their location,” said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer. “We’re especially excited about the addition of more than 100 jobs to the area.”

Delaware Prosperity Partnership worked with Agile Cold over the last year as it considered possible sites in Delaware and surrounding states for expansion. The DPP supported the company’s request to the Council on Development Finance for a Jobs Performance Grant of up to $510,500 and a Capital Expenditures Grant of up to $4.05 million from the Delaware Strategic Fund. Distribution of these grants is dependent upon the company meeting commitments as outlined to the CDF, which reviewed and approved Agile Cold’s request.

“During the past two years, we have worked closely with Delaware officials who recognized the need for modernized cold storage and the benefits that it offers, including job creation and improved supply chain efficiencies,” said Don Schoenl, Agile Cold Storage president and CEO. “We are grateful to local and state representatives for their professionalism and commitment. Agile is looking forward to hiring our team members and servicing our customers starting next summer.”

Correction: Claymont Renaissance Director Brett Saddler was incorrectly identified as Lyle Saddler in an earlier version of this post.

Click on the headline below for an earlier story.

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