GWL picks up six warehouse buildings in Montreal

by Emily Atkins

GWL Realty Advisors (GWLRA) has acquired six Class A industrial buildings in the Greater Montreal Area (GMA), with a seventh scheduled to close later in 2022.

Built between 2012-2021, the properties are located on the South Shore of Montreal, in the Varennes and Chambly industrial parks. These two areas are emerging as industrial hubs, with significant growth in the past few years, the company said.

The new buildings include more than 416,000 square feet of industrial space with direct proximity to major highways and  access to the Montreal, Ontario, and U.S. markets. There is also a good pool of labour in the area, according to GWLRA.

E-commerce boom

According to Wendy Waters, head of research for GWLRA, the industrial asset class has emerged as one of the key winners coming out of the pandemic. “Much of this unprecedented demand growth from industrial tenants, as well as investors, can be attributed to shifting consumer behaviours as industries such as e-commerce seek out warehouse space to keep pace with demand,” explains Waters.

“We see this trend continuing, particularly in regions where strong population growth supports expanding needs for this asset class.”

This acquisition was made on behalf of The Great-West Life Canadian Real Estate Investment Fund No. 1 (CREIF).

In addition to the South Shore portfolio, GWLRA has been pursuing acquisitions and land development opportunities across Canada. Recent activity includes three land development deals and one joint venture involving two small/mid-bay industrial buildings within the Great Plains Business Park in Southeastern Calgary.

“As demand for warehouse space and last-mile distribution facilities grows and the underlying market fundamentals remain attractive, we have seen a sharp increase in investor interest in the industrial sector,” said Steven Marino, EVP, portfolio management, for GWLRA.

Other buys

The new acquisitions include a 44.7-acre industrial land purchase in Richmond Hill, ON, which will be developed into a multi-building industrial site; a 128-acre industrial land parcel in the Calgary, Alberta, that will accommodate approximately 2.2 million square feet buildings; a 138,000 square foot Class A warehouse development under construction in Caledon, Onatio, that will be complete in 2023; and, a joint-venture development involving two small/mid-bay industrial buildings totalling 205,075 square feet on a 10.1-acre site within the Great Plains Business Park in Southeastern Calgary, AB, which is now 100% leased.

As a result of recent transactions, GWLRA’s industrial portfolio has increased in value to $5 billion, representing close to 18 million square feet of single and multi-tenant assets. These assets are primarily light industrial properties that can be configured for warehousing, light manufacturing, distribution centres and other needs.