Coquitlam industrial project addresses the municipality’s near-zero vacancy rate

New building approved next to former 96-acre industrial site that is now earmarked for a residential development

Rendering of planned – and rare – Coquitlam industrial build | WesGroup

A large industrial building is set to rise off Coquitlam’s United Boulevard — at the entrance to the future Fraser Mills Waterfront Village Centre, a former sawmill that Beedie Living proposes to develop into a massive mixed-use residential development.

On July 26, Coquitlam city council unanimously approved a development permit for WesGroup/Pacific Reach Industrial Centre to construct a 196,000-square-foot multi-storey industrial building at 11 King Edward Street. If Beedie Living’s project is approved, the building will be north of the proposed Fraser Mills master-planned community that would see 4,700 homes built on the now vacant former sawmill site.

The city will gain about $858,000 in development cost charges as a result of the industrial construction, according to Mayor Richard Stewart.

Coquitlam needs more industrial space, according to a Colliers second-quarter report on the Metro Vancouver industrial market. The commercial real estate agency report showed that Coquitlam currently has a 0.6% industrial vacancy rate, which is among the lowest in the region.

According to the Metro Vancouver 2020 Regional Industrial Lands Inventory, 82% of the 28,422 acres of industrial land that was available five years ago has now been developed.

Since 2016, industrial development has averaged more than three million square feet a year, and that pace accelerated to 4.4 million square feet annually in the past two years.

The Metro Vancouver study noted that some former industrial land has been rezoned for other uses over the years, including residential.

“There is a critical shortage of industrial land in Metro Vancouver,” Paul Morassutti, vice-chairman at CBRE Canada, noted earlier this year. “It is our estimation that [it] could potentially literally run out of industrial land by the early 2020s.”

The new Fraser Mills building will be the only new project in Coquitlam, which has no other industrial construction underway this year. Ironically, perhaps, it is being built near a former 96-acre industrial site that is now planned for “collection of residences, restaurants, shops, extensive green space and plazas,” according to a Beedie Living release.

A City of Coquitlam planning department spokesman said the Beedie Living proposal has not yet been officially presented to the municipality.

Metro Vancouver’s industrial vacancy rate plunged to 0.7% in the second quarter, the lowest ever recorded, the Colliers report noted.

“This quarter marks the fourth consecutive quarter of no vacancies in the 100,000-square-foot size segment with the largest vacancy this quarter being 47,495 square feet,” Colliers reported. “Strong demand coupled with low supply is causing significant upward pressure on sale and lease value.”