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Florida Crystals' Room to Grow

Unusual for a Florida region, the Treasure Coast has two sites vying to capitalize on the needs of hemmed-in ports trying to increase the volume of goods they handle as larger and larger cargo ships come to call. The payoffs at the two proposed freight hubs include jobs and real estate revenue.

Known as “inland ports,” such logistics centers — there are a half-dozen proposed for sites across Florida — allow major retailers and freight shippers to move cargo inland from expensive port real estate to low-cost real estate in the hinterlands. There, it can be broken up and repackaged for movement by truck or rail to its next destination. The reverse happens for export loads.

In western Palm Beach County, Florida Crystals, the sugar giant owned by the Fanjul family, has an 850-acre site that can hold up to 10 million square feet of warehouse space. Farther north, in St. Lucie County, Kennedy Groves and Pineloch Management are working on Florida Inland Port, a site with 2,300 acres that can be developed, including a 350-acre rail freight hub, and room for more than 20 million square feet of warehouses and industrial space. Florida Crystals Vice President Gaston Cantens says his company’s site has governmental approvals and is working with Atlanta-based IDI to recruit tenants.

Florida Inland Port, meanwhile, is represented by Jones Lang LaSalle in its tenant hunt. “Every successful port in the country has an inland port,” says John Carver, Jones Lang LaSalle’s director of global port infrastructure.