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Former CA Prison Site, Fairgrounds, Armories Turning into Container Storage

Online warehouse marketplace Chunker said it’s now the largest off-port container storage company in California following its deal this week to use state-owned properties to store shipping containers to help alleviate congestion at the ports.

The company’s six leases inked with the California Department of General Services include three armories in Lancaster, Palmdale and Stockton; the site of a former prison in Tracy; and fairgrounds in San Joaquin County and Antelope Valley.

The company said its container storage now totals 165 acres across 11 sites close to ports along the West Coast.

“Container storage is a major component of congestion at the ports as well as a part of the nationwide supply chain crisis,” Chunker CEO Brad Wright said in a statement announcing the deals with the state.

Chunker likens itself to a “hotel for your stuff,” connecting landlords, tenants and brokers with one another through an online platform to work out short-term lease deals on warehouse space. The company said its marketplace totals more than 25 million square feet across 47 states.

On the off-port container storage sites, Chunker said it offers load and unload services, chassis storage, security 24 hours a day and a cloud-based scheduling system for pickups and drop-offs.

The leases are for one year and give Chunker the option of extending for an additional year. The container storage is aimed at helping the state work through congestion at the ports.

“California is on top of prioritizing the storage needs that have slowed distribution at ports on our coast,” Department of General Services director Ana M. Lasso said.

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The state and companies have pulled a number of levers to free up port space and ease other supply chain bottlenecks under an executive order Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in October.

That order included temporary permitting of increased truckloads, more testing times at the Department of Motor vehicles for commercial driver’s licenses and up to $5 billion in infrastructure-related project financing via a partnership between the California State Transportation Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation.

Last week, fulfillment company Taylored Services LLC said it won a bid to work directly at the Port of Los Angeles.

The company’s Taylored POLA site offers its customers container storage, transloading, cross-docking and other services its vice president of operations Brian Southwell called a “game changer.”

Further north, the Port of Oakland said it was erecting a 22-acre popup container yard at the port, with the goal of clearing the buildup of agricultural exports there.

The yard, which is expected to be up and running March 1, was 60 percent financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

West Coast ports’ container volume hit record levels last year, but late ships, cancellations and other delays led to a buildup of imports and exports.

Congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach spurred a chain reaction along the West Coast as shippers re-routed to other area ports to avoid the San Pedro Bay facilities.

Los Angeles and Long Beach said last week they’ve seen aging cargo on the docks down by a combined 70 percent since Oct. 25, when consideration of a container dwell fee was first discussed. Implementation of the fee has been delayed a number of times now, with the two ports saying they continue to monitor dwell counts on a weekly basis.

A project44 report on port congestion in January indicated some improvement, with U.S. ports seeing the count of ships waiting to be loaded or unloaded at 7.4 daily in January, roughly halved from December’s 14.1 ships.