Amazon takes final piece of big Burnaby industrial park

In the largest speculative build in Metro Vancouver’s history, the retail giant leases entire last building at Riverbend Business Park

Amazon, Canada Post among clients at Riverbend Business Park, which completes late in 2022 | Photo: Oxford Properties

Seattle-based retail giant Amazon has leased the sixth and final building in Burnaby B.C.’s new Riverbend Industrial Park, Canada’s first multi-storey industrial build, which was developed on speculation by Oxford Properties Group of Toronto.

The lease of the entire 707,000 square foot space brings development of the 1.35- million-square-foot business park to a successful completion, according to Jeff Miller, head of industrial at Oxford Properties, the real estate arm of OMERS, the pension plan for Ontario's municipal employees.

Formerly an abandoned paperboard milling operation and landfill, Oxford has transformed Riverbend into an environmental award-winning business campus.

The last of the site’s six buildings to be constructed – having broken ground in late 2019 – Amazon will commence operations at the multi-storey complex upon its completion in the fourth quarter of 2022.

"Vancouver is one of the tightest and most land-constrained industrial markets in the world, so we knew bold solutions were required to deliver the type of footprint demanded by the growing digital economy,” Miller said. “

Metro Vancouver’s industrial vacancy rate, as of the end of 2021, was 0.4 per cent, the tightest among large Canadian cities, according to Colliers Canada. Average industrial lease rates were up 18.8 per cent from a year earlier at $18.80 per square foot.

Riverdale’s multi-storey design optimized the amount of industrial space that could be built on the 65-acre site, which included 14 acres of landfill. It is the largest speculative development ever constructed in Greater Vancouver, according to Miller.

Purchased by Oxford in 2011, mountains of waste and debris was removed from the site and converted back into developable land. Additionally, Oxford implemented several initiatives to restore the shoreline of the adjacent Fraser River. Invasive and non-native plant species were removed, improvements made to fish habitats and shoreline erosion protection measures installed. The brownfield site earned the 2019 City of Burnaby Environmental Award.

Comprised of six fully leased buildings, Riverbend’s tenants include the Mercedes and Volvo fuel-cell joint venture cell-centric, Article, Canada Post and now Amazon.

The Riverbend facility features a heated truck ramp to access the second level. It includes 124 loading doors at three separate truck entrances spread across the two levels. The ground floor is 437,000 square feet and the upper level covers 270,000 square feet. It has a clear height of 32 feet and the floor is eight-inch reinforced concrete capable of supporting 500 pounds per square foot.

The business park also provides employee amenities including walking trails, end-of-trip facilities and a pedestrian pier that overlooks the Fraser River.

Western Investor