Baytown-West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation | 1300 Rollingbrook Dr., Suite 610 | Baytown, TX 77521 | 281.420.2961 |

Business booming at Cedar Port

May 8, 2021

Slowed less than the retail and service sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic, logistics businesses continue their growth in Baytown and west Chambers County, with more warehouse and distribution projects under construction or in development.

In just one corner of Cedar Port near the intersection of Highway 99 and Fisher Road, several huge projects are taking shape.

Significantly, some of the projects are unrelated to the area’s mainstay oil and gas industry.Floor and Décor Outlets announced a 1.5 million-square-foot distribution center being built this year, adding to the portfolio of home supply companies already in the area — both 

The Home Depot and Ikea have distribution centers nearby.

Blackline Cold Storage will bring a new kind of business to the industrial park when it builds one of the area’s largest cold storage warehouses, providing a transit point for U.S. food producers exporting their products to the world market.

In the same area, Plastic Express will have an 800,000-square-foot rail-served facility for storing and distribution of heavy products, mainly plastics.

Baytown-West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation Associate Executive Director B. J. Simon said the logistics sector — the part of the business world that moves products from their point of origin to where they are used — has been fairly stable through the pandemic and accelerated toward the end of 2020.

“There are a number of logistics and distribution warehousing operations that are siting in Cedar Port and other projects that are in due diligence in Ameriport and Port 10 over off I-10 and Thompson Road,” he said.

Some of the projects are built by the companies that will operate them or by a developer who has a specific tenant already lined up. Others are built on speculation, with interior customization waiting until a tenant signs on.

“There are general warehouse, e-commerce profile buildings that have been built,” Simon said.

The four factors that come together to make Baytown-area industrial parks attractive on the national stage are proximity to the Port of Houston, proximity to major highways and rail lines and large tracts of available land.

Available workforce, support services and energy infrastructure complete the picture.

Simon said there are no dedicated e-commerce operations in the area yet, though every business is affected by it. 

Planning for e-commerce tenants, though, has literally re-shaped the way warehouse and distribution buildings are built.

“Design for expansion,” he said. “Take for example the Hunt Southwest building. It’s a million square feet. It’s designed to be expanded in 300,000-square-foot increments, because it would not be surprising in an e-commerce distribution facility to require that kind of capacity to come online quickly.”

While petrochemical-related products dominate logistics in the area, more commodity groups are coming in, including food.

“One of the projects that came online in 2020 at Cedar Port is the Pro Citrus Network. They do fresh vegetable and produce for a number of clients,” he said.

Pro Citrus Network is a California-based company that serves major retailers with fresh produce.

The Blackline project will expand the food presence at Cedar Port.

Mike Day, CEO of parent company Blackline Partners said he expects their facility to be built within about a year, filling a need for large-scale cold storage in the Houston area.

The first focus of the center is domestic production, he said. “It is going to be largely seeking export out through the ports but there also is a component of local distribution.”

The company is also in discussion with shipping lines that are bringing product into the port from all over the world. “A lot of that is frozen and is looking for a staging location to containerize some of the imported containerized product and turn that into local distribution.”

Day expects product to move both by truck and by rail.

John Knox Porter, who is building the facility for Plastic Express, said that project is the same as one they built for the same company in Savannah, Georgia.

“We have a lot of high hopes for this asset,” he said. “We’re really proud to be landing in Cedar Port with the capabilities that they have.”

At least 100 jobs are expected at the facilities, in addition to ancillary jobs like trucking.

“Our main business out of that facility will be the packaging of plastic that typically has been manufactured there in that area,” Porter said. “We heavily export out of that facility but we also have domestic use, which is why it’s important to be located near the major rail lines.”

The facility will handle both PVC and resin, he said.

The pandemic kept the company busy, he said, with a surge in demand for paper products.

The grade of paper they handled most during the early days of the pandemic, he said, was the paper used in the production of pizza boxes.

“We could not find enough pizza box paper,” he said.

Not surprisingly, the paper used in toilet paper production was number two.

By Mark Fleming, Baytown Sun