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Hamilton Economic Development

Development firm spends $27M on Hamilton airport land eyed for big warehouse

Builder’s clients include Canadian Tire, Coca-Cola, BMW, Suncor, Carlton Cards and Loblaw.

A large industrial warehouse developer has become the first major investor in Hamilton’s airport employment lands.

Panattoni Development Company has bought 82 acres on the southwest corner of Upper James Street and Dickinson Road for about $27 million.

The firm plans to construct a million-square-foot building and six smaller ones on the site it bought from former senator David Braley.

“In the case of Hamilton, we’re confident in the market,” Adam Lambros, development manager, said Monday.

The project also represents a major windfall for the city, which would generate about $6 million in development charges with just a 500,000-square-foot build.

“To put that in context, that is significantly larger than the existing Maple Leaf processing plan in Binbrook,” said Glen Norton, the city’s economic development director.

One of the advantages of the serviced site is proximity to John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, Lambros said.

These days, industrial warehouses are top of mind for online retailers like Amazon and Wayfair that rely on quick delivery, he said.

“Those are the types of companies we try to build for.”

Panattoni bills itself as “one of the largest privately held, full-service developers in North America” with more than 24 regional offices in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Some of its clients include Canadian Tire, Coca-Cola, BMW, Suncor, Carlton Cards and Loblaw.

Panattoni is building a million-square-foot manufacturing facility for Adidas Canada in Brant County. It has constructed a 145,000-square-foot “spec flex office” complex in Mississauga that has eight tenants.

Panattoni doesn’t yet have tenants for the Hamilton land but is confident it will line some up.

Lambros said the Hamilton area offers a large population within a quick drive, access to highways and a strong labour pool.

“When you check all of those boxes, we thought, ‘Why not?'”

Norton said the site plan is expected to be submitted to the city’s planning department by the end of November.

The airport employment lands, also known as “aerotropolis,” were the subject of an Ontario Municipal Board dispute that ended in February 2015.

The OMB approval green-lighted the 1,360-acre boundary push, which is the largest expansion in Hamilton’s history.

The employment district includes city-owned and private parcels within Garner Road, Twenty Road, Upper James Street and Highway 6.

Norton said the remainder of the area’s servicing — sewer and water pipes, for instance — is expected to be in place within four years.

“We’re tying to accelerate that based on what we think is going to be quite a big demand.”

He expects the Panattoni purchase to spark more interest in the area with industrial space in the fast-growing GTA at a premium.

One handicap for Hamilton has been a lack of ready-to-use industrial space. The vacancy rate is less than two per cent, Norton said.

“We’ve actually missed out on potential new businesses moving to this city because there wasn’t space to move into.”

Lambros said he hopes to start construction in spring and anticipates the project to take about 15 months.

Article courtesy of  Teviah Moro, The Hamilton Spectator

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