Construction underway as industrial warehouse complex expands

Bob Pieper for Chronicle Media

Rendering of new 100,000-square-foot warehouse space now under construction at America’s Central Port. (Photo courtesy: America’s Central Port District)

Rendering of new 100,000-square-foot warehouse space now under construction at America’s Central Port. (Photo courtesy: America’s Central Port District)

Construction has begun on the first phase of a major warehouse expansion project at the America’s Central Port complex. Plans call ultimately for up to 1 million square feet of new, rail-served manufacturing and warehousing space in the industrial development along the Mississippi River’s Chain of Rocks shipping canal.  

The warehouse project is designed to provide additional capacity following the opening of the port’s new public South Harbor facility late last year. It represents the third major expansion of the port complex, located between the canal and Route 3 in Granite City and the city of Madison.

Development of the new warehouse tract is beginning with the construction of a 100,000-square-foot warehouse for an expanding port tenant and a 26,000- square-foot bulk storage building to support the new, public harbor, according to Dennis Wilmsmeyer, port district executive director.

The port district finalized financing for the first phase of the warehouse expansion project on Dec. 31. The start of construction on the first warehouse building was announced Jan. 22 by Korte Construction, the general contractor for the project. Construction of the bulk storage facility is scheduled to start this spring.

The industrial park’s initial warehouse building will be a tilt-up, design-built structure, which will also include office space for the private tenant, according to a Korte Construction statement.

Project financing involves an $8.5 million allocation of New Market Tax Credits from Heartland Regional Investment Fund.  U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation is the tax credit investor and Pulaski Bank is the lender.

The Port District has been working on redeveloping the former site of the U.S. Army’s Charles Melvin Price Support Center in Madison County as an intermodal business and industrial park, since the military closed the facility – popularly known as “the Granite City depot” – in 2000.

America’s Central Port is the St. Louis region’s only full-service, public intermodal port. The district presently manages 1,200 acres of intermodal business and industrial facilities in Madison and Granite City.  America’s Central Port’s business and industrial park currently contains over 1.7 million square feet of rail-served warehouse space, and approximately 70,000 square feet of office space with access to the Mississippi River, four interstate highways and six Class I railroads. To date, the port has attracted over $350 million in new development.  It is estimated to have an annual economic impact of $282 million on Madison County.

The Port Dstrict has been authorized by the Illinois legislature to pursue development in a territory composed of over 200 square miles in western Madison and southern Jersey counties.

The opening of the district’s $50 million South Harbor, in October, drew hundreds of business leaders from across the St. Louis region and Southwestern Illinois, as well as Illinois Deputy Secretary of Transportation Christine Reed and US Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen.

The South Harbor facility is a new rail/ truck/ barge terminal and general cargo barge dock, designed to increase the handling capabilities of port operators and better accommodate the shipping of agricultural commodities. Development involved 9,600 feet of rail track, the moving of over one million cubic yards of dirt and over 8,000 cubic yards of concrete.

Anticipating a marked increase in barge traffic at the port, the Madison Fire Department last year launched perhaps the Metro-East’s first true fire boat.

The $350,000, twin-engine vessel, purchased with a Port Security Grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, features special doors that allow the boat to pull right up to a docking location and get victims to ambulances more quickly. Special built-in ladders on the sides allow equipment-laden divers to enter or leave the water without jumping or climbing over the sides. Forward-Looking Infrared technology allows rescuers to conduct searches at night.

The boat is now available to respond to both maritime and riverside emergencies along 70 miles of waterway from the Illinois River to Chester.

On Sept. 30 of last year, the U.S. Economic Development Administration announced a $2.3 million grant for additional rail track work at the port complex.

Meanwhile, the Port District is soliciting bids for a solar thermal water heating system, as part of an upgrade of its short-term housing units. That energy efficiency project is funded in part by a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

–Construction underway as industrial warehouse complex expands–