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Water Tower District Winnipeg's next shovel-ready industrial dev. site

The project, by Shindico and Olexa, will include multires, retail, office, medical, industrial

An aerial view showing Winnipeg's Water Tower District site, outlined in red. (Courtesy Shindico)

Construction work including roads, water and sewers has begun on Winnipeg’s 165-acre infill mixed-use Water Tower District.

The project, by Winnipeg’s Shindico Realty and Calgary-based Olexa, sits on a large brownfield site in the St. Boniface community east of downtown.

“We’re developing and selling and leasing all the food groups – multiresidential, retail, suburban office, medical and of course industrial,”  Shindico president and CEO Sandy Shindleman told RENX.

Shindleman and Robert Scaletta, senior vice-president, industrial for Shindico, said the advantages of the new district include its size, location and access to city transit. The infill site is also still within easy reach of rail and highway access to serve its industrial portion.

“This is the only large industrial site in the City of Winnipeg that is shovel-ready,” Scaletta said. “Everything else is outside the city and the capital region, where there’s no transit.

"The transportation is very accessible. The employment is very accessible and we’re four kilometres to downtown.”

Breakdown and history of the site

Seventy acres of the total site are planned for industrial. Residential development is planned for just over 25 acres, commercial and retail take up 21 acres and about 22 acres will be devoted to parks and green spaces.

Businesses located in the Water Tower District will have easy access to a potential workforce both in the multiresidential portion of the development and surrounding established neighbourhoods, Shindleman and Scaletta added.

The Water Tower District is located on the former sites of meat-packing plants and a public market. At one point it was considered a potential site for a football stadium.

With servicing already underway, the developers plan to get shovels in the ground this fall and into next spring on multiresidential and industrial buildings, Scaletta said.

The entire project could take eight years to complete, according to Shindleman.

“There will be industrial development for lease and there will be some shovel-ready industrial land in an infill site, which is unheard of in Winnipeg,” he said.

“We’re in all ends of the business – financing and arranging financing. People are going to have an opportunity to buy industrial land right in the city. Once it gets going, we’ll turn the tap off and we’ll be developing industrial spaces.”

There's some room for customization

The firm’s district brochure lists build-to-suit options from 10,000 to 150,000 square feet.

Shindleman said the initial buildings will be multi-bay. If there’s demand, the firm could also do big-box warehousing with deep bays and more expansive truck courts, he added.

Scaletta predicted the lease rate on industrial in Water Tower District will be in the $12-per-square-foot range.

Shindleman said he expects the project will attract national as well as local investment interest.

“Developers can get scale here. We’re talking to a national pension fund that’s interested in industrial and having an industrial footprint here. They would have us do the leasing for them and build for them.”

He says Shindico has begun planning the multiresidential component of the project and will design the industrial side as well. Retail will be block planning, he added, because it must meet the needs of the tenants.

Scaletta, who is the main contact for interest in industrial sales and lease for the project, said the Water Tower District will also increase property values in the neighbouring areas.

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