(Photo: Oxford Properties)
The Greater Vancouver Area (GVA) is one of the most land-constrained industrial markets in the world. Property is pricey, so bold solutions are required when building expansive new business parks.
The folks at Oxford Properties Group have developed a solution. The company has broken ground on Canada’s first large-scale, multi-level industrial project in the Big Bend area of Burnaby, B.C. The project located at 8220 Fraser Reach Court is going to be part of Oxford’s flagship Riverbend Business Park and is the largest speculative building ever constructed in the GVA.
Oxford has transformed the former brownfield site into a progressive and environmental award-winning master-planned business park.
“The pandemic has accelerated the penetration of e-commerce into our daily lives and will put additional demand for infrastructure such as logistics space to service the growing digital economy,” says Jeff Miller, head of industrial at Oxford Properties.
“We’ve learned from some of the most innovative industrial projects from across the globe to execute on our plan to develop Canada’s first multi-level industrial property. Given its proximity to the urban areas of Greater Vancouver, the development provides excellent infrastructure for last-mile delivery as consumers come to increasingly expect next-day and even same-day delivery.”
Construction has Begun
The company first announced the multi-level project in November 2019 with the caveat that municipal approvals still had to be procured. Construction work on the building has started by now, and the completion is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2022.
The building will have 707,000 square feet over the two levels. The ground floor will comprise 437,000 square feet with 32-foot clear heights. The second storey will be 270,000 square feet and will be accessible to full-size transport trailers via a heated ramp. The structure will have 28-foot clear heights and a 130-foot truck court with dock loading doors.
The flexible design of the building will allow it to accommodate tenants from 70,000 to 707,000 square feet. Loading will be provided through three separate truck courts with 124 total loading doors.
Since the building is located close to the intersection of Marine Way and Highway 91A in Burnaby, it is ideally situated for attracting labour and can serve a population of 1.4 million within a 30-minute drive.
Space in Demand
Industrial space is in demand due to the rise in e-commerce and evolving supply chain requirements. The need for industrial space in the GVA continues to outpace supply, with the area recording 1.1 million square feet of positive net absorption in the third quarter of 2020.
“Oxford has built close to five million square feet of industrial space across Canada, and each park starts with a vision made in collaboration with municipalities and stakeholders,” says Rob Wheler, vice president of development at Oxford. “Breaking ground and going vertical is an important milestone in our stated ambition to deliver Canada’s first large-scale multi-storey industrial facility.”
Construction of the building also marks a high point for the transformation of the 65-acre business park. The site, which used to be home to a paperboard milling operation and 14-acre landfill site, was purchased by Oxford in 2011. More than 300,000 cubic metres of waste and debris were removed from the site in order to convert it back into developable land. There are six buildings already on the site, comprising more than 1.3 million square feet.
Improving the Environment
The company has implemented several initiatives to restore the shoreline of the adjacent Fraser River and help protect native species growing there. To achieve it, it removed invasive and non-native plant species, made improvements to fish habitats, and installed shoreline erosion protection measures.
The business park features attractively designed buildings with clerestory windows providing natural light and amenities to promote employee wellness, such as a pier overlooking the Fraser River and walking trails that connect to the public trail system.
The buildings at Riverbend Business Park are also LEED Certified. What’s more, Oxford’s environmentally conscious approach to the redevelopment of the brownfield site earned it the 2019 City of Burnaby Environmental Award.
The company manages approximately (Cdn.) $60 billion of assets across the globe on behalf of its co-owners and investment partners. The portfolio includes offices, retail, industrial, hotels, and multi-family residential.
Oxford is focused on growing its industrial exposure. Its Canadian industrial business comprises 14.3 million square feet and $2.3 billion of assets under management, with a development pipeline of up to six million square feet across Vancouver, the Greater Toronto Area, Edmonton, and Calgary.