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HOPA Ports re-creating Great Lakes sites for modern industry

HOPA Ports and partners are reinventing legacy industrial spaces for modern users.

HOPA Ports
Reinvented industrial space in Niagara, Ontario (Image courtesy: HOPA Ports)

In Hamilton and Niagara, Ontario, two high-profile projects are transforming brownfield spaces and attracting modern industrial users. 

As cities evolve and economies transform, the adaptive reuse of industrial spaces is a powerful strategy for revitalizing and repurposing outdated facilities. HOPA Ports and partners are taking this approach to strategic assets within the port authority’s 1400-plus acre portfolio of multimodal industrial lands on the Canadian Great Lakes. 

“Adapting a space from one industrial use to another can be complex, because every potential user’s needs are unique,” said Jeremy Dunn, HOPA Ports’ Commercial Vice President. “We start by investing in key transportation infrastructure and upgrades, but we also have to stay flexible, so a new customer is getting exactly what they need from their facility and improving their supply chain.” 

Investments underway in HOPA’s Hamilton rail logistics hub

At Pier 18 at the Port of Hamilton, HOPA is transforming a legacy industrial site into a new rail transload hub, providing much-needed rail capacity and space for modern industry. The Pier 18 hub sits within the footprint of former steel manufacturing lands on the Hamilton Bayfront. At the heart of the development is a 10-acre rail transload hub with capacity to handle rail car storage, rail transloading, container handling and more. 

Work began recently on investments to rehabilitate and expand the rail infrastructure. Connected to the CN line, close to marine terminals at the Port of Hamilton, and with direct access to 400-series highways, Pier 18 is ideally located for a rail transload facility. “We’ve seen the number of rail cars transiting the port increase by 122% in the last decade,” said HOPA’s Jeremy Dunn. “Still, there’s a need for much more rail capacity in Southern Ontario.” CN Rail and Hamilton Container Terminals are partnering with HOPA to offer rail services, which bring extraordinary value to the adjacent development lands at Pier 18. 

HOPA Ports
New rail infrastructure under construction at the Port of Hamilton (Image courtesy: HOPA Ports)

The rail hub is surrounded by 60 acres of industrial development land, and HOPA is welcoming inquiries from potential users who can benefit from the site’s specialized multimodal and heavy industrial services.  “We can offer industrial supports that just aren’t available at your typical greenfield site,” noted Dunn. “New users will have access to rail transloading, de-stuffing, dry and liquid bulk transloading, gantry cranes, and spaces for industrial processing, all within a secure site which is appropriately zoned for industry.” 

Expanding Thorold Multimodal Hub welcoming new tenants

In the Niagara Region, HOPA Ports and partner BMI Group are delighted with the market response to the revitalized industrial space at the Thorold Multimodal Hub, a 600-acre reinvented industrial complex adjacent to the Welland Canal. The Hub includes a former paper mill and auto parts manufacturer property, both of which had been idle for many years, and combines them with other adjacent industrial lands. 

To-date, close to $90 million has been invested in the Thorold Hub, including refurbished warehouses, road and rail infrastructure. The site has more than a million square feet of indoor space, in addition to outdoor storage and build-to-suit greenfield development land.  

HOPA partner BMI Group has been instrumental in restructuring some of the Hub’s most challenging spaces. “The transformation has been amazing,” said Justus Veldman, Managing Partner with BMI Group. “We are ahead of schedule, able to put more space into action as productive employment land, and giving Ontario companies the space and transportation supports they need to thrive.” 

Some of the Hub’s most valuable features are in-place thanks to the space’s industrial history. “We have Class A Power with 185MW of capacity and the lowest rates in Ontario,” said HOPA’s Niagara Property Manager Kurt Vos. “An on-site effluent treatment plant can treat 960 litres of wastewater per second from a wide variety of waste streams. We have such a variety of spaces, from 5,000 to 200,000 square feet, with exceptional features like 60-foot ceilings and 60-tonne cranes, already in-place.” The Hub also serves as a nexus between transportation modes, with direct marine access, rail service including indoor and outdoor transloading, and highway access 30 minutes from the Canada-US border. 

Already, more than a dozen companies have taken up residence in the Thorold Hub, including Canadian Maritime Engineering, and clean-energy innovator CHAR Technologies. 

“In order to ensure that manufacturing continues to grow in Ontario, we have to get creative about these legacy industrial sites,” said HOPA’s Jeremy Dunn. “Each one is different and offers unique opportunities, which we optimize by working closely with our customers.”   

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