UPDATED WITH QUOTES, BACKGROUND: Slate Asset Management has unveiled what it calls a “preliminary vision” for its 800-acre industrial redevelopment property on the Lake Ontario waterfront in Hamilton, which will be known as Steelport.
Slate acquired the former Stelco lands in June of 2022 with a commitment to redevelop the property into a major industrial hub which could provide up to 12 million square feet of space and create up to 23,000 new jobs across the region.
It paid about $518 million for the property, which includes 3,400 metres of waterfront access the company plans to turn into a major Great Lakes intermodal hub and port.
“Steelport reflects our commitment to raising the bar for industrial redevelopment,” said Blair Welch, founding partner at Slate, in the announcement.
“From transforming the site into a modern and accessible space, to creating thousands of jobs and infusing billions into Canada’s economy, we believe the reach and impact of this project will be monumental.”
Steelport acknowledges Hamilton's history
The name is a testament to Hamilton’s history as a steelmaking and heavy industrial centre, and a nod to Stelco’s continuing presence as a tenant at the property.
The land carries an M5 zoning, which allows for a wide range of industrial and employment uses, including manufacturing.
“Reimagining these lands will require a forward-thinking design philosophy, vast amounts of investment, and extensive collaboration,” said Brady Welch, founding partner at Slate, in the release. “We look forward to partnering with the City of Hamilton, the province and the federal government to ensure we can realize the full potential of this iconic site in a way that will create value for all its stakeholders for decades to come.”
Although there are few specific details in the announcement, the concept is to “reshape an under-utilized port into one of the largest, state-of-the-art intermodal industrial hubs in the country".
The property represents one of the largest industrial redevelopment opportunities on the continent.
“It is rare to find that much contiguous land that is M5 zoning, that is well serviced with power and infrastructure," Slate's senior vice-president, development Steven Dejonckheere said while discussing the property during last week's Southwestern Ontario Real Estate Forum in Kitchener.
Slate envisions a complete reimagining of the site – reflected in Steelport’s tagline: “Industry Reimagined” – to deliver a modern, intermodal, master-planned employment district including municipal roads, public spaces and flexible development parcels that could accommodate a wide range of employment and support uses.
“What is unique about this are really two things in my mind from a lot of the other larger industrial parks," Dejonckheere said during the forum.
"The first is this is in the core of the city, it’s waterfront property. There is about 3.5 kilometres of actual waterfront looking onto the bay. It’s absolutely premium property and there is a major city-building component in addition to just an industrial development here and I think we take that very seriously.”
“The second is because of the location and the zoning of the site, M5 zoning. A lot of the newer outskirts greenfield conversions, those are more logistics focused, which has been a lot of the growth in the past couple of years. But there is limited places for manufacturing to go, so I think our tenant pool on the site is going to be a little bit different.
"To us that is a value-builder as well."
Sustainability to be built-in to redevelopment
Slate also plans to incorporate sustainable development principles. As part of the redevelopment, steel collected from the demolition of existing, outdated buildings has been recycled to reduce consumption and energy usage.
The site offers opportunities to explore renewable and district energy solutions, as well as other larger-scale sustainability initiatives. Slate will also invest in the environmental protection and remediation of the brownfield site, though that will be less onerous than many had imagined.
“The contamination component was contained really well," Dejonckheere said at the forum. There are impacted soils, “but they are manageable, particularly because we were not looking for a change of use.”
Today’s announcement proposes a public realm as part of the design, including an expansive trail network that ties together a stormwater lagoon park, waterfront promenade and a potential battery park amenity.
Cultural elements and retail amenities are planned around a two-kilometre loop through the heart of the site offering access to a portion of the city cut off from public use for over a century.
A new road and infrastructure network would integrate public transportation into the site – from bus routes to bike share stations. The road and trail networks are designed link into Hamilton’s Bayfront Area transportation and trail vision.
Extensive transportation links
The property offers direct access to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway, the U.S. land border, Ontario’s highway system, on-site rail, as well as nearby international airports in Hamilton and Toronto. Hamilton is Canada’s largest cargo airport.
Calling it a “one-of-a-kind” opportunity in North America, Slate plans a variety of industrial uses ranging from logistics centres and production hubs to traditional and innovative manufacturing reflecting the modern economy.
At full build-out, the property could inject up to $3.8 billion into Ontario’s economy over the next decade, according to an economic study conducted for Slate by EY.
Steelport is part of Slate’s broader investments in the City of Hamilton. In May 2023, Slate debuted its plans for Corktown – a downtown residential condominium development comprised of housing and amenities. Slate intends to launch sales for Corktown this month.
The firm plans to engage local institutions, community groups and governments – municipal, provincial, and federal – as it continues to refine its plans for Steelport.
About Slate Asset Management
Slate Asset Management is a 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.