Speculators go all in on Metro Vancouver industrial

Multiple bids, soaring prices characterize tight market

Burnaby's new Eastlake Campus is in the final phases of development and welcomed its first tenants in June.  Speculation has taken hold in Burnaby, where “overwhelming demand “ has driven industrial vacancies to record lows of around 1% I Photo: Larry Wright, Burnaby Now

Speculators are going all-in on Metro Vancouver industrial real estate, gambling to sell space into a market that is starting to rival the residential sector with multiple bids and soaring prices.

In East Vancouver, industrial strata space is selling for up to $550 per square feet, an increase of at least 10% from a year ago. An aging industrial site on Clarke Drive and East 7th Avenue was recently snapped up for the equivalent of $18 million an acre, noted Boe Iravani, vice-president of Cushman & Wakefield.

“The industrial market [in East Vancouver] has changed.”

Iravani added that demand has shifted from renovating and leasing older buildings to demolition and redevelopment into strata space.

An example is Conwest Development, which outbid competitors this month for an industrial-zoned city block near East Hastings and Victoria Drive. Conwest plans to develop and sell 200,000 square feet of multi-level light industrial space on the land.

Vancouver’s industrial vacancy rate has plunged to 2.1% – the lowest of any major Canadian city – according to Colliers International.

Speculation has also taken hold in Burnaby, where “overwhelming demand “ has driven industrial vacancies to record lows of around 1%, reports Avison Young.

Construction on 1.3 million square feet of industrial is currently underway in Burnaby and New Westminster, all of it being built on speculation.

So far, the gamble is paying off for big developers.

Beedie Development Group pre-sold more than 120,000 square feet of its latest industrial strata project in Burnaby; Conwest sold out 121,700 square feet in a Burnaby complex that isn’t scheduled to be completed until the fall.

When a Burnaby window-manufacturing site came on the market this spring on North Fraser Way, the half-acre parcel drew multiple bids and sold for more than $6 million.

“These stand alone industrial buildings are attracting multiple offers and are generally under contract within weeks,” said Avison Young principal Ross Bougie.

He predicted that more business owners will consider selling their property “to capture the premium pricing available.”

fobrien@biv.com