Demand for Business Park Land Continues to be Strong

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Hamilton offers eight business parks that span the breadth of the city and provide comprehensive options for industrial, commercial and retail uses in multiple sectors.

The city is a powerhouse in advanced manufacturing, agri-food, life sciences, and transportation and logistics and is among Canada’s most diversified economies, thanks to its ideal location in the midst of Canada’s most populous region and its unparalleled position as a multi-modal gateway to key North American markets.

Other critical benefits: Hamilton offers a full scope of shovel-ready land development opportunities that drive immediate value for investors and tenants. It is also an affordable and much less congested option compared to municipalities in the GTA.

Hamilton’s business parks are attracting global headquarters, expansions of Hamilton successes and industrial developers capitalizing on the city’s value proposition, says Norm Schleehahn, director of Hamilton Economic Development.

Major developers and end users have discovered Hamilton and are investing here for the future,” says Schleehahn.

“What Hamilton offers is a large cost advantage over the GTA along with the large parcels of land that are very difficult to find anywhere east of the city.” Hamilton business parks offer options along the industrial waterfront, in greenfield suburban parks and within the West Hamilton Innovation District.

The Airport Employment Growth District is 555 hectares (1,300+ acres) of employment lands near the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport. It is Canada’s busiest overnight express cargo airport and is open 24/7, 365 days a year with no curfew. The park is well situated for those companies focused on just-in-time delivery in particular and includes fully serviced land that accommodates light manufacturing and warehousing and fulfillment centre operations, including Amazon and DHL.

The 1,552-acre Red Hill Business Park at Hamilton’s south end offers terrific highway access and is home to Canada’s largest commercial bakery, major manufacturing employers, and international auto manufacturing distribution centres.

Sora Group, an industrial and commercial development and construction company, owns property across Ontario but its largest portfolio is in Hamilton.

It owns three buildings in the Red Hill Business Park – a distribution centre for large vehicle manufacturer Navistar (252,000 square feet), water technology innovator Fibracast (91,000 square feet), and tire maker Continental Tire. The latter, which relocated from Caledon, took possession of its new 305,000-square-foot distribution centre in August.

Sora Group was able to complete the development in one year and beat the project timeline, says Joe Hamadi, president and CEO.

The developer also has site plan approval underway for an additional 345,000 square feet that is expected to be built next year.

Sora started developing in the area 10 years ago. Hamadi says land is affordable and offers easy connections to major highways and the U.S. border. In addition, tenants can access a great labour pool.

“It is a great experience to develop in Hamilton. Staff is approachable, management of the various developers to facilitate meeting tenants’ requirements and schedules, and it is a very active and helpful economic development office. We develop all across Ontario and we found that Hamilton is the place to invest,” says Hamadi.

When Navistar was considering its move to Hamilton 10 years ago, the mayor, city manager and all department heads met with the company to assure its leaders that the City would meet its timeline. Navistar moved in ahead of schedule, says Hamadi.

Sierra Supply Chain Solutions officially opened its Red Hill expansion – a $65-million, 250,000-square-foot state-of-the-art cold storage and food processing facility – in August. It features advanced energy efficiency and warehouse management systems, and value-add services to refrigerated food providers.

“I don’t think there is another facility like this in Canada, let alone in Ontario,” says Michael Paletta, vice-president of Penta Properties (part of Alinea Group Holdings Inc.), a landowner, developer, and owner of multiple properties in the retail and employment sector throughout the Hamilton, Niagara and the GTA.

Sierra’s leaders say land availability, transportation networks and a skilled workforce in Hamilton has set the company up for growth.

“Hamilton is a great location,” says Paletta. “It’s 45 minutes to Toronto, 45 minutes to an hour to Buffalo, three to four hours to Detroit, so it’s a great place from which to serve the GTA, eastern Ontario and the eastern United States. And Hamilton is still more affordable than Toronto, Mississauga or Brampton.”

In the Flamborough Business Park, two Fortune 500 companies call the 95-acre iConnect development home: medical device giant Stryker Canada and global aerospace and defense technology innovator L3 Harris. iConnect is a unique mixed use development that features more than 100 retailers and up to 1.5 million square feet of industrial and office space.

Construction is now well underway on a new facility for AXYZ International Inc., a leading global manufacturer of CNC router and knife systems. The company is consolidating several facilities in Oakville into one state-of-the-art 105,000-squarefoot manufacturing and office space.

“It’s about 50 per cent bigger than what they have and will allow them to grow,” says Steve Malovic, chief operating officer of Krpan Group.

“It will give them new efficiency on the production side. This is a custom building that is designed for their needs. Not a lot of developers do that, but we do.”

At full buildout, iConnect will be home to 6,000 to 7,000 jobs and it’s already halfway there, says Malovic.

But with the roads, bridges, utilities and water retention infrastructure in place, all the employment lands are shovel ready, says Malovic.

“We work very well with the City. They are very supportive of what we are doing here. So we can turn around site plans in a relatively short time span. That means from concept to occupancy can happen in about 18 months.”

That kind of responsiveness – and willingness to build to suit – protects local jobs, says Malovic.

“We don’t want these companies going elsewhere. We want them to stay in Ontario and in Hamilton.