Condo-industrial park under construction for eager Calgary buyers

Calgary’s appetite for industrial space will soon be sated by about 120,000 square feet of Class A property hitting the market.
Construction recently started on the NorthWing Business Park in the city’s northeast end. Hungerford Properties, based in Vancouver, is the developer.
Michael Hungerford, a partner in the family business, said the project is tapping into demand from industrial clients seeking to avoid high lease rates by owning their own facilities but also looking to do without the expense of stand-alone buildings.
“It’s more and more difficult for businesses to own their own freestanding buildings, and there’s a shortage, so providing condominium ownership is a response to that by sharing buildings with other owners, sharing facilities and organizing that way,” he said.
Michael Massing, a senior associate with Collier’s International that’s arranging sales of units in the NorthWing park, said drivers behind the demand includes rising lease rates in Calgary that are now as much as $14 per square foot for these types of buildings, a shortage of land, high construction costs and the opportunity created by low interest rates.
“It really makes these condominium projects a logical choice for a lot of business owners,” Massing said.

Northwing Business Park under construction in Calgary.
Condominium industrial units larger than normal
Hungerford said that while condominium industrial units are not unheard of, the NorthWing’s larger units, up to 13,000 square feet (options for combinations would allow some buyers to secure up to 40,000 square feet) are fairly rare in multi-unit facilities built for purchase.
“In Calgary, it’s one of the first projects that has a certain size of condominium,” Hungerford said, adding that “until very recently” it was hard to find industrial condos bigger than 5,000 square feet.
“The condominium market didn’t really exist in what I would say is the mid-market of 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, and that’s what we’ve focused on.”
The NorthWing Business Park plan consists of two buildings: one with 10,000-13,000 square-foot units, and another with 2,200 square-foot spaces. Massing said the larger units are selling for between $2.2 million and $2.7 million each, while the smaller ones go for about $450,000.
He said about 25,000 square feet of space has been sold so far, and there are offers pending for another 17,500.
“Given that we’re only a few weeks into construction, sales have been really, really strong,” he said.
The business park is due to open in the fall.
Those behind the project say the facilities are suited toward and zoned for a wide range of activities including manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, as well as commercial and recreational types of operations.
Large loading docks among features
Some of the listed features include large loading areas and docks, oversized doors, ample parking, steel framing, insulated concrete walls, sprinkler systems and LEED-grade T5 lighting.
Hungerford said that increased environmental awareness and how that translates in the need for denser development also play a role in what he believes will be a growing demand for industrial condominiums.
“The industrial development that we see today is more environmentally sustainable,” he said. “We try to organize ourselves around transit and increased density. Industrial (development) has traditionally been building on the outskirts of town and taking up big pieces of land, and it became an expensive model to service land and commute and everything else.”
One of the early buyers of space at the NorthWing site is Northeast Wholesale, a distributor of merchandise for pharmacies, hardware and discount stores across Canada.
“We wanted something brand-new and there aren’t many big buildings like this for sale anywhere in the city,” Northeast president Amrit Jaidka said in a statement issued by Hungerford Properties.
“Most buildings like this are old and in the city centre, but we don't have to or want to be there. We want to be close, but not in the city centre. . . . NorthWing offers this for us.”
In terms of location, NorthWing is promoted for its access to the city’s light-rail system, key roadways and the Calgary International airport.
Hungerford said he’s interested in developing more similar business parks in Alberta, warranted by the strong economy. He said he’ll soon be announcing another project in Calgary and he’s looking at Edmonton as well.
“We are interested in looking at condominium products across Western Canada,” he said. “We just happen to see the opportunity more so in Alberta right now than in B.C. . . .
“(Calgary) is a very tight market. It has low vacancy rates. There’s a lot of growth in business related to a strong economy and good employment, and all the economic fundamentals that you see in Alberta are very strong.”

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