116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Travero prepares to open Logistics Park Cedar Rapids with eye toward future growth
Alliant Energy’s transportation subsidiary plans to have 259,000-square-foot warehouse ready to go in mid-September
Surrounded by corn fields and one-lane roads at the edge of Fairfax, a large gray building had far more cardboard boxes for furniture than employees in its offices earlier this past week.
A grid of ventilation tubing hung from the ceiling, ready to absorb any small amount of fumes that will come from electric forklifts — yet there were no forklifts nearby.
It’s not expected to stay that way for long, though.
Logistics Park Cedar Rapids, a development aimed at providing freight logistics services, is nearing completion on the building that uses about 50 acres of the 101-acre development.
The facility has a connection to the CRANDIC freight rail line and 39 truck doors. The facility will have rail-to-rail and rail-to-truck, as well as truck-to-truck and truck-to-rail, transferring capabilities, along with space for storage and light manufacturing.
Travero officials anticipate the first building of Logistics Park Cedar Rapids, 2020 Lefebure Rd. SW in Fairfax, to open in mid-September.
Travero — formerly called Alliant Energy Transportation — expects to house 50 employees at the facility initially.
Finding customers to use the space when it opens still is a work in progress, General Manager Bill Oberfoell said during a tour of the facility this past week.
“We have several (potential customers) in the hopper that we’re working with,” Oberfoell said.
The warehouse floor will remain empty without any racking or separate containment areas, though, until closer to that mid-September open date.
“Customer requests can change,” Oberfoell said. “They may want racking, they may not want racking.”
The 259,000-square-foot warehouse gives Travero some flexibility.
“We could have somewhere in the neighborhood of 28,000 to 30,000 pallets potentially,” Oberfoell said.
Travero officials said one prospective customer is considering some light manufacturing in the facility.
And Travero officials already have expansion on their minds, with a second building likely will go either south or east of the current space. But that won’t happen “until we fill this building,” Oberfoell said,
“With material prices the way they are now, we couldn’t afford to build,” he added. “Really no one else can, either, because steel has skyrocketed, concrete is expensive, wood (prices are) starting to come back down.”
Post-pandemic freight realities emerge
Freight activity in the United States has risen steadily since April 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Transportation Services Index, which measures transportation activity among freight and passengers.
The index takes into account air freight, for-hire trucking, rail freight services, inland water transportation and pipelines to produce the freight component of the index, which has fluctuated between the high 90s and low 140s since 2000.
The freight component of the index has moved up from 125.7 in April 2020 — the lowest rate in three years — to 137.7 in May 2021.
That remains below the pre-pandemic peak, when the freight component of the index hit 141.9 in August 2019.
Freight prices internationally have been high as a backlog have climbed among foreign countries and foreign U.S. ports.
But Thushan Hemachandra, Travero’s senior manager of marketing and commercial operations, sees this as an opportunity for Logistics Park Cedar Rapids.
“People can’t get stuff in and out of their operations in the Chicagoland area,” Hemachandra said. “So having this outside of that congested area, we’re getting a lot of interest because of that.”
Cedar Rapids area becoming a ‘transportation hub’
Logistics Park Cedar Rapids is far from the only cargo facility proposed, under construction or recently completed.
FedEx announced plans to build a $108.6 million warehouse and distribution center in southwest Cedar Rapids. UPS this summer completed an $18 million cargo facility at Eastern Iowa Airport.
Oberfoell said he doesn’t view the other projects as competition but as an indicator of the demand for facilities like his.
“We’re starting to become that transportation hub in Eastern Iowa,” Oberfoell said.
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