Slate Asset Management has closed on the $518-million acquisition of approximately 800 acres of industrial development land and buildings from Stelco Inc. in Hamilton. The firm said it plans to develop up to 12 million square feet of new industrial on the lands, which is already zoned for a wide range of uses.
The industrial park could create up to 23,000 new jobs across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, and inject up to $3.8 billion into the economy according to an economic study conducted by Ernst & Young.
The sale closed this morning, although local media reports disclosed several months ago Slate would become the new owner.
The scope of Slate’s plans for the site, however, were not previously known.
“Having grown up in the area, (co-founding partner/brother) Brady (Welch) and I understand first-hand the history and significance this site has had in the Hamilton community and in broader Ontario for well over a century,” Blair Welch said in the announcement Wednesday morning.
“Our vision is to restore this site to its highest potential, reimagining it as a world-class industrial park that will continue to play a crucial role in the economy of the city and our province long into the next century.”
“One-of-a-kind” development opportunity
The site’s strategic location presents what Slate considers a “one-of-a-kind industrial development opportunity in North America.”
It is located adjacent to Hamilton’s waterfront and harbour on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
It also offers access to the U.S. land border, Ontario’s highway system, on-site rail connecting to Ontario’s greater Golden Horseshoe network and to the nearby Hamilton international airport, which is one of Canada’s key cargo hubs.
“This project represents a defining opportunity to reactivate a massively under-utilized parcel of land that has global industrial relevance,” Brady Welch said in the release.
“We are committed to working in close partnership with local institutions, government, and community groups to deliver a state-of-the-art industrial park that is modern and sustainably developed, attracting world-class tenants and restoring economic vitality to the area.”
Slate has agreed to a long-term sale-leaseback of 75 acres of land and two million square feet of buildings for 35 years to Stelco, a major North American steelmaker whose operations have long been synonymous with Hamilton.
The remaining 725 acres and any other remaining buildings will be prepared by Slate for development into “highly coveted, class-A industrial product.”
The development potential for the site will be a major boost for a region where industrial vacancy is running around (or below, depending on the district) one per cent. A Slate spokesperson told RENX this morning the firm is not releasing any timelines for development at this point.
Asking rents in the Toronto area have jumped 30 per cent year-over-year according to Colliers’ most recent Q1 2022 data.
The region saw 13.7 million square feet of absorption over the past year and an additional 10.3 million square feet is under development.
Site remediation and the environment
Slate also plans to invest into the environmental protection and remediation of the site. As part of that responsibility, it will “reactivate” the 3,400 metres of waterfront along Lake Ontario.
“By incorporating best practices around sustainable infrastructure, construction and social value across the lifetime of this project and its end use, we can redefine the legacy of this site and reintroduce it as a new standard-bearer for modern industry,” said Bozena Jankowska, global head of ESG at Slate, in the release.
“We look forward to collaborating with local and global organizations to raise the bar for this industrial redevelopment in every sense and demonstrate that we can drive economic growth while ensuring environmental and social sustainability.”
The Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area is located at the western end of Lake Ontario within the Golden Horseshoe, an industrialized region of nearly 10 million people surrounding the city of Toronto, which accounts for 20 per cent of Canada’s GDP.
The Golden Horseshoe also has strategic access to major U.S. markets, with a population of 130 million people within a 500-mile radius.
The region has two international airports (in Toronto and Hamilton) serving 200 destinations in 55 countries.
About Slate Asset Management
Slate Asset Management is a Toronto-based global alternative investment platform targeting real assets.
Slate’s platform has a range of real estate and infrastructure investment strategies, including opportunistic, value-add, core-plus, and debt investments.