Cold Storage Facility to Break Ground in Albert Lea
Rendering of Vortex Cold Storage to be built in Albert Lea, Minn.

Cold Storage Facility to Break Ground in Albert Lea

Developers say Vortex Cold Storage will address the increasing need for food certified cold storage in southern Minnesota.
Rendering of Vortex Cold Storage to be built in Albert Lea, Minn.

Unlikely though it may seem in a state where the average winter temperature is well below freezing: Minnesota is short on food-safe cold storage. Increased grocery demand during Covid, with consumers spending more time at home, has added to the need for what the industry refers to as “last mile delivery” centers near stores.

JCW Development will soon break ground on a $31 million, 170,000-square-foot frozen food storage facility in Albert Lea called Vortex Cold Storage.

Based in Beaver Dam, Wis., JCW is a real estate and property development group that builds cold storage units across the country. “There’s an incredible cold storage shortage throughout the country and Covid kicked that need into hyperdrive,” JCW president Ben Westra says. Food manufacturers increasingly prefer to outsource cold storage—expensive to build and maintain—rather than incur the overhead.

Nearly half of existing cold storage facilities in the area were built before 1980, Westra says. “Vortex will apply state-of-the-art technology and facility design.” Temperatures will range from 40 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Albert Lea offered a central location at the intersection of interstates 90 and 35 to serve southern Minnesota. And the city, Westra says, welcomed the project with tax incentives and a reduced land price. There’s adjacent land to potentially double the facility size in the the future.

“Based on initial growth of up to 26 jobs and the vast project scope, I am confident that we are not only getting a great new business but a community partner as well,” says Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen. “This is yet another example in a year riddled with uncertainty, that Albert Lea is headed in the right direction and has strong leadership and partnerships in place to move the city forward.”

JCW intends to break ground on Vortex in the spring with an estimated completion date of late 2021.