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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

LAKE CITY, FL-Ryan Cos. US Inc. has completed its first perishable food distribution center for Target Corp. in northeast Florida, near the crossroads of Interstates 10 and 75. The 430,000-sf facility will begin serving SuperTarget stores throughout the Southeast by the end of summer.

The Lake City distribution site, which took roughly two years to complete, will handle fresh produce as well as frozen and refrigerated foods, with wall heights between 24 and 80 feet to store and ship goods bound for SuperTarget coolers. The building features pre-finished metal and pre-cast concrete wall panels, along with metal and glass accents to make it appear less industrial to interstate travelers.

A two-stage ammonia refrigeration system is used to cool various segments of the building to desired temperatures, including backup power generators. Ryan engineers developed a system using minimal electricity and water, providing 50% greater efficiency than standard refrigeration systems in smaller distribution centers.

“The Lake City project is a wonderful entry into the Florida market for Ryan,” Doug Dieck, president of Ryan’s Southeast division based in Tampa, stated in a release. “It speaks to the depth and breadth of what is possible in warehouse efficiency.”

Target and Ryan, both headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, have collaborated on six previous industrial projects with services ranging from site selection and due diligence to design-build and construction services. Last year, they completed a distribution complex in Savannah, GA, totaling 4 million sf in three buildings handling non-perishable and imported items.

SuperTarget is among Florida’s top-ten grocery store chains despite having only 24 stores and 1.8% market share, according to the Shelby Report, an industry publication. The leading statewide grocery chains are Publix, with 40% market share; Wal-Mart, 25%; and Winn-Dixie, 13%.

Ryan is also building a Target food distribution center in Cedar Falls, IA, that will be similar to the Lake City facility upon opening late next summer. For both projects, the developer’s design and construction team is utilizing a Building Information Modeling (BIM) system that helps design intent, perform estimating and quantity takeoffs, and coordinate on-site activities.

“It lets the entire team provide their individual opinions and test our collective assumptions, as we can literally put the building together piece by piece, before we even break ground,” says Anthony Johnson, Ryan’s senior project manager. He adds that the system also helps reduce material and labor costs, along with addressing weather-related scheduling problems.

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