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Who Knew The Salmon Industry Was So Important To Miami Real Estate?


Who knew salmon — that cold water fish better associated with Seattle — would be having such an impact on commercial real estate in Miami?

A major supplier of salmon to the U.S. just inked a big industrial deal in Medley, and Homestead will soon be the site of a major state-of-the art fish farm.

Marine Harvest ASA, a Norwegian company that is traded on the Oslo stock exchange, says it is the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon and operates in 24 countries. It has aquaculture facilities in Europe and Canada and ships fresh fish anywhere in the United States. It is moving its U.S. headquarters from Doral to the Airport North Logistics Park in Medley.

Wild salmon typically are born in freshwater rivers, migrate to the Northern Atlantic or Pacific and return to the rivers to spawn. But because they have grown scarce, farmers have begun to raise salmon in aquaculture programs. Farm-raised salmon are born in hatcheries, then transported to pens in the cold waters off Norway, Chile or the North Atlantic to grow. When full size (after about 22 months) the fish are processed and then flown around the world for sale.

Marine Harvest's new Medley site, owned by L&B Realty, will be built out for salmon processing and distribution. Much of it must be converted to temperature-controlled, food-grade space. Other portions of the building will serve as a new corporate office for U.S. operations. Construction should be complete before the end of the year.

“This new building in a business-friendly market like Medley is the ideal location for logistics and labor force and a win for the firm’s short and long-term operational goals,” Colliers Vice President Erin Byers, who helped broker the deal, said in a statement.

A little farther southwest, in Homestead — known for avocado farms and plant nurseries — another publicly traded Norwegian company called Atlantic Sapphire is building a $130M, 380K SF salmon farm. 

The company pioneered its own aquaculture system in Denmark in 2010, but sea lice and microplastics in the ocean threatened the fish. The company looked at sites in 14 U.S. states and chose Homestead, where water in the Biscayne Aquifer is filtered through limestone rock.  

According to the Miami Herald, South Florida's geology uniquely allows for ample fresh water and salt water, and the company will be allowed to dispose of treated wastewater in a 2,750-foot-deep injection well. The new facility, which is under construction at Southwest 272nd Street and 217th Avenue, will have 20 acres of wells — fresh water, salt water and the injection well. Atlantic Sapphire says it will recycle 99% of the water it uses. 

On additional acreage, there will be a freshwater salmon hatchery, 36 recirculating saltwater tanks chilled to about 59 degrees, a processing center and offices. Construction is expected to be done in 2019. More phases could come after that, and Atlantic Sapphire has an option to buy a contiguous 40 acres that now serve as a papaya farm.

Atlantic Sapphire hopes to capture 10% of the U.S. market — or 360 million meals per year. Company executives have said they believe they can make U.S. salmon consumption competitive with beef, pork and chicken.