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Amazon tenancy means Oxford’s Riverbend biz park fully leased

Oxford Properties Group has confirmed e-commerce giant Amazon has leased all 707,000 square feet...

IMAGE: A rendering of the 707,000-square-foot multi-level distribution centre being built by Oxford Properties Group for Amazon at Riverbend in Burnaby, B.C. (Courtesy Oxford Properties)

A rendering of the 707,000-square-foot multi-level distribution centre being built by Oxford Properties Group for Amazon at Riverbend Business Park in Burnaby, B.C. (Courtesy Oxford Properties)

Oxford Properties Group has confirmed e-commerce giant Amazon has leased all 707,000 square feet at its multi-storey distribution centre being built at Burnaby’s Riverbend Business Park.

The building, when it goes into service later this year, will complete Oxford’s decade-long development of 1.35 million square feet at the master-planned Riverbend complex.

Oxford also said in a release this morning all six buildings at Riverbend are fully leased. It acquired the Metro Vancouver site in 2011 and has since converted the brownfield former paper mill property into an award-winning business campus.

“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,” Jeff Miller, head of industrial at Oxford Properties, said in the announcement.

“Backed by the strength of our conviction and a world-class team, we delivered not only Canada’s first multi-level industrial property, but the largest speculative building ever constructed in Greater Vancouver.”

Vancouver industrial vacancy 0.4 per cent

The project is completing in a market where there are no available industrial spaces over 50,000 square feet, according to Colliers’ Q4 2021 stats, and where vacancy has continued to tighten to 0.4 per cent from 1.2 per cent at the start of 2021.

Asking rents were $16.31 in Q4, up 19 per cent.

“Completing Riverbend’s leasing by signing one of the most innovative companies in the world validates our bold initial vision, while promising major economic and consumer benefits as last-mile delivery capacity is significantly strengthened for the region,” Miller said in the release.

Riverbend has been a major component of Oxford’s commitment to the logistics sector in recent years.

The firm has been involved in building over five million square feet of light industrial space across Canada and has a pipeline of about six million additional square feet according to vice-president of development Rob Wheler.

“From a former brownfield site to a world-class, fully leased business park, Amazon’s commitment marks yet another milestone as we deliver Canada’s first large-scale multi-storey industrial facility,” Wheler said in the announcement. “We will additionally seek to replicate Riverbend’s winning formula of ease of access to large urban centres, sustainability performance and employee-centric design across our six million square foot industrial development pipeline across Canada.”

Other tenants at Riverbend include Mercedes and Volvo fuel-cell joint venture cellcentric, Article and Canada Post.

When construction began on the Amazon building, it was Canada’s first large-scale multi-storey distribution centre. Amazon has since had other multi-level fulfillment centres delivered in several Canadian markets including facilities of 2.8 million and 2.9 million square feet in Ottawa and Edmonton, respectively.

Design features of the Riverbend building

The Riverbend facility does have some significant design differences, however, including 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 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.

Riverbend comprises a total of 65 acres and is the former home of a paperboard mill and 14-acre landfill.

Over 3.9 million cubic yards of waste and debris was removed from the site and converted back to developable land.

Oxford also implemented several initiatives along the adjacent Fraser River to restore the shoreline and protect its native species. Invasive and non-native plant species were removed, improvements made to fish habitats and shoreline erosion protection measures installed.

Award-winning development

The buildings are LEED certified. The business park also features walking trails, end-of-trip facilities and an amenity pier overlooking the Fraser River.

Oxford’s efforts at Riverbend earned it the 2019 City of Burnaby Environmental Award.

Oxford continues to grow its industrial business across Canada and around the world.

In August it announced a deal to buy a 149-building, 14.5-million-square-foot light industrial portfolio across 12 U.S. markets from KKR for US$2.2 billion.

In September it completed the acquisition of M7 Real Estate, a pan-European logistics investment and asset manager.

Logistics now represents the largest allocation of capital within Oxford’s global real estate portfolio.

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