A new, $200-million distribution centre for e-commerce giant Amazon is slowly starting to rise from a once-vacant plot of scrubland in Citigate Corporate Business Park in Barrhaven in the south end of Ottawa.
When officials held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site little more than a month ago, there were just a few piles of dirt, a rock truck, dozer and excavator on site. Today, in spite of COVID-19 and all it entails, the project is starting to take shape, and excavating and foundation work is well underway.
What’s to Come
With steel beams for walls of the building being erected, construction crews are hoping to start on the building envelope components by fall. This way the structure can be enclosed by end of year.
When completed, the 450,000-square-foot, built-to-suit distribution centre will be the largest single-phase industrial building ever developed in Canada and the first multi-level one in Ottawa. Overall, the building will have five floors and 2.7 million square feet of space.
The online retailer is billing the warehouse as its newest “robotics fulfillment centre,” as employees will work side-by-side with robots to fill orders. The site is expected to handle mostly smaller goods like books, electronics and toys.
Broccolini to the Forefront
Broccolini, a Montreal-based real estate and construction firm, is in charge of the project and will act as a landlord and property manager once the centre is completed.
The structure will be Amazon’s second distribution centre built in the National Capital Region. Broccolini was the builder on that one as well and also built two other mega-fulfillment centres for Amazon – in Toronto and Montreal.
“We are excited to once again partner with Amazon and begin construction of a new, technologically-advanced fulfillment centre,” said James Beach, director of Real Estate and Development at Broccolini in Ottawa. “Following the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve trained our employees and set new protocols to ensure workers can do their jobs safely while respecting the latest health guidelines.”
Expertise Put to Good Use
Procore is used as the main project management platform between all team members working on the project to ensure collaboration.
“Amazon will benefit from our considerable and diversified expertise to co-ordinate all development and construction aspects from the outset through to delivery, as well as our management experience that comes with our impressive portfolio of properties,” said Beach.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who joined Broccolini family members at the site for the earlier ground-breaking ceremony, said the project will help Ottawa’s economic recovery by creating hundreds of jobs during construction and 1,000 full-time jobs when the centre opens in 2021.
“This is what we need to diversify our local economy and keep employment strong across the city and in Barrhaven,” he said.
Employment Opportunities for Everyone
The building backs onto Highway 416 in the west, a busy, main thoroughfare into Ottawa, and Fallowfield Road to the north. The warehouse is also situated near a Costco facility.
More than 700 trades are expected to be working on site at the peak of construction. The build is expected to take 14 months, with the centre slated to be delivered to Amazon by the end of 2021.
“We engage only the A-team from an internal, sub-trade, and consultant perspective.”Jean Langlois, Director of Communications and Marketing at Broccolini
“This incredible timeline can only be achieved as a result of our team’s collective experience,” explains Jean Langlois, Director of Communications and Marketing at Broccolini. “We engage only the A-team from an internal, sub-trade, and consultant perspective.”
To ensure timely project delivery, Amazon intends to hire technical experts from a wide range of fields.
There have been some minor construction challenges on the project, Langlois notes. For instance, rock blasting, which had to be done, required Highway 416 to be shut down for a while. However, it didn’t cause any significant problems.
The build of the new development comes less than a year after Broccolini wrapped up work on another Amazon facility. The one-million-square-foot project on Boundary Road, just off Highway 417 in Ottawa East, brought 600 jobs to Ottawa.
Michael Broccolini, VP Business and Development at Broccolini, said that with the Amazon project, the company now has more than $2.3 billion of projects currently under development. This means the company is continuously looking for new talent.
“With the Barrhaven fulfillment centre and many more major construction sites underway or in their final planning stages, Broccolini is continuously looking to hire more highly-trained professionals for timely delivery of its projects,” he added.
The company has worked on a number of prestigious projects. For instance, it was involved in construction of the New Maison de Radio-Canada in Montreal, Que. and some of the city’s largest high-rise buildings.
Beach, meanwhile, said the partnership with Amazon, as well as others with major players, such as Canadian Tire and IKEA, have helped establish the company as a key industrial builder.
“Broccolini continues to demonstrate its excellence in building state-of-the-art construction projects,” he said. “We are uniquely positioned to develop and deliver large-scale projects, such as the newest Amazon fulfillment centre, which help the Canadian economy as it reopens for business.”