Even without specific guidance around what the regulations would require from new facilities, Niven is reasonably confident that it will be challenging to update older facilities to meet changing demand.

“Large-scale cold storage facilities will almost certainly need to be developed, as there are various challenges involved with repurposing an older facility,” Niven says.

Specifically, Niven sees two issues with upgrading older facilities. “Perhaps most important is the capital investment involved, as bringing an antiquated facility up-to-date would be almost as expensive as building a new, state-of-the-art facility,” Niven says. “Secondly, most of the older stock have lower clear heights that would lower overall cubic footage for storage, and hold less appeal for modern tenants.”

Niven says the conversion of a dry warehouse into a cold storage facility is highly complex, comparing it to “building within a box.”

“On a more granular level, it would require a series of large-scale undertakings that include the removal of floors; the installation of glycol lines that provide underfloor heating; upgraded dock doors with 360-degree dock seals to prevent vapor infiltration; extensive insulation, refrigeration equipment; structural steel racking; and an abundance of other conversions that would prove both costly and complicated,” he says.