Building the Largest Blast-Freeze Operation in the Northern Hemisphere: Design-Build Gets It Done

July 2012: A Joint Venture of The McDonnel Group and Primus Builders completed design-build services for the Port of New Orleans Riverfront Cold Storage Facility at the Henry Clay Avenue Terminal.

The $40 million, 142,000 SF project is the new home for New Orleans Cold Storage and Warehousing LLC (NOCS), the oldest cold storage company in North America. NOCS is one of the largest suppliers of beef, poultry and pork exports in the nation and one of PONO’s two biggest customers. Among other products, NOCS handles nearly half of the poultry exported from Louisiana farmers to destinations such as Russia, Eastern Europe, and Africa.

The new facility is a regional import/export hub for the City of New Orleans. Temperature-sensitive products arrive via trucks for blast-freezing and/or cold storage warehousing in an insulated on-dock building until exported via dockside handling directly into refrigerated ships berthed adjacent to the facility. The scope of work included:

  • Design and construction of a 142,000 SF facility containing 20 dock positions, blast rooms, pallet staging and storage areas
  • New site access road and utility infrastructure
  • Truck marshaling yards
  • Modifications to an existing wharf structure

As the first design-build project for PONO, it was imperative for the process to adhere to design-build best practices to ensure success and garner support for the delivery method on future projects. The selection process and the delivery method applied several design-build best practices that resulted in the project being completed within budget and schedule.

PONO President, Gary LaGrange stated “The design-build method provided the ability to evaluate quality, schedule, and cost from the onset of design and throughout construction, resulting in the project being completed both faster and more economically than traditional design-bid-build”.


  • 142,000 SF
  • 142,000 SF
  • 4,800,000 cubic feet of storage space with temperatures ranging from -20o F to +50oF
  • 1,240,000 pounds per day of new blast freeze technology
  • 38 million pounds of storage capacity
  • 20 electric dock doors and levelers
  • 2 ship berth/dockside vessel loading
  • State of the art energy saving technology and operational efficiencies throughout
  • 2-stage NH3 refrigeration system
  • LED lighting
  • 10 reefer plug-ins
  • Over $1,000,000 in new material handling equipment and supplies


  • 125 direct new jobs
  • 70 indirect jobs
  • $2,000,000 in payroll
  • $126,000,000 in economic activity
  • $150,000 in property taxes


  • 359 direct jobs
  • 800 indirect jobs (including farmers and processors)
  • $8,000,000 in payroll
  • $57,500,000 in economic activity
  • $9,170,000 in state and local taxes

To see time-lapsed images of the project’s construction, click here

Project's Detail