FORT WORTH—The COVID-19 crisis has pushed the US food supplysystem to its limit. However, cold storage is the criticalbehind-the-scenes component holding it together, according to AlexLangerman, COO of Cold Summit Development.

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In March 2020, the Department of Homeland Security classifiedcold storage facilities and those employees as essentialinfrastructure, to allow those facilities to remain open andoperating through the peak of pandemic. Ultimately, the frontlineworkers in this sector prevented widespread food shortages acrossthe country.

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A recent South Fort Worth transaction exemplifies the demand forcold-storage facilities. CIM Group acquired Junction 20/35, anindustrial property of approximately 1.128 million square feetconsisting of cold and dry storage, and an adjacent 14.42-acreparcel located at 7550 Oak Grove Rd.

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The multi-purpose facility has been renovated several times,most recently in 2018, and provides freezer and cooler space. Builtin 1989, the purpose-built facility has added clear heights andcolumn spacing, loading bays, a truck court, car and trailerparking, and rail accessibility.

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Junction 20/35 is located within strong transportation networksincluding Interstate 20 and Interstate 35, which provides access toother areas of Texas and the greater Southern United States as wellas to three airports, DFW International, Alliance and Love Field.The property is also close to rail transportation and two majorintermodal facilities, BNSF Intermodal Facility and Alliance GlobalLogistics Hub.

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"Junction 20/35 is well located for a variety of logisticoperations including a distribution point for the last mile ofdelivery in a densely populated district as well as regional hubfor businesses moving products along the neighboring highways andrailways or through nearby airports," Terry Wachsner, principal ofreal estate services of CIM Group, tells GlobeSt.com. "In additionto its convenient location, Junction 20/35's dry and cold storageis ideal in providing a solution to meet the increased demands forprompt and efficient food distribution."

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Cold storage is the infrastructure and real estate subsectorconsisting of large refrigerated warehouses. These warehouses storethe nation's fresh/frozen produce and protein while it moves fromfarmer to processor, wholesaler to distributor and direct toconsumer.

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Though cold storage is far from top of mind for most people, itis a vital component of the food supply chain. Indeed, theexperience of COVID-19 has changed the outlook for cold storage asan asset class, according to Cold Summit's Langerman. While it hadbeen gaining momentum among investors, the COVID crisis haspropelled cold storage to the forefront, with future demandaugmented by three key trends emerging from the pandemic:increasing inventory levels, shifting global food flows andautomation, says Cold Summit Development.

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Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown is an editor for the south and west regions of GlobeSt.com. She has 25-plus years of real estate experience, with a regional PR role at Grubb & Ellis and a national communications position at MMI. Brown also spent 10 years as executive director at NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area chapter, where she led the organization to achieving its first national award honors and recognition on Capitol Hill. She has written extensively on commercial real estate topics and edited numerous pieces on the subject.