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Berkshire, Fiera JV to build GTA’s Heart Lake Business Park

Berkshire Axis Development and Fiera Real Estate have broken ground on the 750,000-square-foot He...

IMAGE: The Heart Lake Business Park site in Brampton, just north of Toronto. (Courtesy Cushman & Wakefield)

The Heart Lake Business Park site in Brampton, just north of Toronto. (Courtesy Cushman & Wakefield)

Berkshire Axis Development and Fiera Real Estate have broken ground on the 750,000-square-foot Heart Lake Business Park in Brampton, just north of Toronto.

The project is site-plan approved, with building permits in hand for four buildings so far, and all of the major structural construction materials have been secured.

A five-building speculative industrial development will be built in phases and is being marketed by Cushman & Wakefield’s Fraser Plant, Michael Yull and Rory MacNeil. The brokers are targeting e-commerce, general distribution, light manufacturing, life sciences and pharmaceutical sectors for the first phase.

“They will all be 40-feet clear,” Plant, Cushman & Wakefield’s senior vice-president of operations, told RENX. “Usually buildings of that size are 32 to 36.”

Leased buildings to be delivered in phases

The first phase of construction is underway at 10 Newkirk Ct. with a 316,452-square-foot building and 15 Newkirk Ct. with a structure totalling 105,896 square feet. The larger building will have 16 trailer parking spots away from its docks.

“For the large building, if you’re in the market between now and the next 12 months for 300,000 square feet in the GTA West, you really don’t have any options,” Cushman & Wakefield executive vice-president Michael Yull told RENX.

“All of the other buildings have been leased or are about to be leased. We have the market captive from that sense, so we’re anticipating a lot of interest.”

The smaller building will feature double-sided shipping, which is rare for a structure of that size and should help drive interest.

“The ownership group would prefer to see single tenancies,” Plant said. “That could change, depending on who shows up and what the covenant is, but we’re gearing to leasing these buildings out to single tenants.”

The larger building is expected to be delivered at the end of March 2023, while the smaller one should follow two months later.

The other three structures to be built and leased at Heart Lake Business Park will be approximately 109,000, 105,000 and 87,000 square feet, respectively.

“Due to the aggressive nature of the ownership group as well as their confidence in this location – and ‘pedal to the metal’ is their motto here – I would think delivery of Phase 2 would probably be toward the end of 2023,” Plant said.

Heart Lake Industrial Condominiums

There will also be 61,000- and 46,000-square-foot industrial condominium buildings, with a combined 26 units that range from around 3,500 to 5,500 square feet, as part of Heart Lake Business Park. They’ll have 28-foot clear heights and truck-level loading.

Berkshire Axis has been delivering industrial condos for 10 years and vice-president Craig Wagner told RENX interest in these units really started to pick up about five years ago.

“We were very excited to be able to carve out part of the site to deliver to the condo market,” said Wagner. “It has been, and currently is, a very strong market.“

Wagner said the Heart Lake Industrial Condominiums units are about 70 per cent sold and are being released to the market one or two units at a time, with a goal of being sold out when they’re ready to be delivered at the end of this year.

Good location and existing infrastructure

Heart Lake Business Park is located along the Highway 410 corridor with relatively easy access to all major 400-series highways. It’s within a 20-minute drive of Toronto Pearson Airport and CN’s Brampton and Vaughan intermodal sites.

The building at 10 Newkirk Ct. offers signage and visibility opportunities directly on Highway 410.

“The project is closely tucked-in to dense residential, so it has access to a large population base,” said Yull.

Berkshire Axis and Fiera Real Estate acquired the site in July 2021 for $91 million. The vendor was subdivision developer Emery Investments, a privately owned, Toronto-based real estate development and property management company that’s been operating for more than 50 years.

All of the roads for the subdivision are in place and all of its blocks are serviced.

“Emery is a very experienced subdivision developer,” said Wagner. “Once we got into our due diligence, we realized their group had lined everything up very well and there was going to be speed-to-market and speed-to-delivery.”

Berkshire Axis and Fiera’s partnership

Heart Lake Business Park is the seventh project in which Berkshire Axis and Fiera Real Estate are partners.

“It’s not that we have an exclusive relationship with each other, but we certainly have a great deal of respect for each other and a great deal of respect for our working relationship,” said Wagner. “So when the opportunity came around, it was an easy choice to go to Fiera.”

Toronto-headquartered Fiera Real Estate is wholly owned by Fiera Capital Corporation, a multi-product investment management firm with more than $174.4 billion of assets under management as of March 31.

Fiera Real Estate is an investment management company with offices in North America and Europe and more than 80 employees. It globally managed more than $7.6 billion of commercial real estate through a range of investment funds and accounts as of March 31.

Toronto-based Berkshire Axis has more than 25 years of experience in delivering industrial and residential projects across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). It has completed more than 30 industrial projects over the last 10 years.

“We buy existing multi-tenanted industrial buildings that we convert to condos, we do new-build industrial condos, and we also have the build-to-suit and build-to-lease program that we’re running with Fiera,” said Wagner.

“All three of those, if we can find the right sites in the right locations with the right timing, should set us up to deliver substantial value for our investors.”

Those investors include a small group of high-net-worth individuals and institutional partners, according to Wagner.

Other recent Berkshire Axis activity

Berkshire Axis has several other projects in the GTA.

It acquired a 70-acre site at 12505 Heart Lake Rd. in Caledon early this year and is looking to rezone it from agricultural to industrial.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure what we plan to deliver there just yet, but we’re very excited about that site,” said Wagner.

Berkshire Axis recently signed its final lease deal at its project at 11050 Woodbine Ave. in Markham, which has 330,000- and 300,000-square-foot industrial buildings with 36-foot clear heights and drive-in and truck-level loading.

They’re both now fully pre-leased and are due to be completed in Q4 2022.

Berkshire Axis should launch sales for its first industrial condo project in Aurora — at Addison Hall Business Park, which was also developed by Emery Investments — in the next 60 days.

The company bought an 8.5-acre, fully serviced lot and will deliver 130,000 square feet of space in three condo buildings. Two will have truck-level doors and one with smaller units will have drive-in doors.

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