Industrial land, buildings remain scarce in Burnaby

Burnaby industrial properties continue to enjoy relatively low vacancy rates, an indication of the lack of such available land and facilities, according to Kyle Blyth, senior associate with Avison Young.

In the fall of 2012, Burnaby's vacancy rate was 3.8 per cent, compared with 2.8 per cent in the spring of 2012 and 3.5 per cent in fall of 2011.

That's consistent with Metro Vancouver's overall average vacancy rate of 3.6 per cent last fall.

It's all due to a lack of available land and new developments for industrial or business park use, said Blyth. Part of the difference between the spring and fall numbers is due to companies moving out of leased properties into strata units they'd purchased.

And while, as reported in the NewsLeader, companies located east of Byrne Road in the Big Bend area are frustrated by the lack of transit service there for their employees, Blyth said that wouldn't affect the lease rates or land prices of area properties.

"It's definitely a value-added having public transit nearby but tenants that need to be in South Burnaby will look at being there regardless," he said. That's because what's most attractive about the area is its central location, proximity to the ports, Vancouver airport, Annacis Island and downtown Vancouver.

And the lack of supply keeps the prices up. "There aren't a lot of high-quality, industrial warehouse spaces available in North or South Burnaby."

He noted 3945 and 3955 Myrtle St. near the freeway sold for almost $3.8 million last August after only about a month on the market.

In terms of new industrial development space, the most significant site in North Burnaby is 13 acres on Enterprise Street in the Lake City Way area, Blyth said. In South Burnaby, the 64.4-acre former Norampac containerboard mill site at 8255 Wiggins St. which closed in 2011 has since been purchased by Oxford Properties which plans to use it for a business park. The 69-acre phase 2 of Glenlyon Business Park on North Fraser Way and Glenlyon Parkway, owned by Canada Lands Company, recently saw completion of servicing work and lots starting at two acres are now for sale.

Conwest Developments is constructing a facility at the southeast corner of North Fraser Way and Byrne Road. And Beedie Development Group has several projects at various stages in the rezoning and construction process, in the Big Bend area.

The Beedie project at 8118 North Fraser Way only has one strata unit out of five still available for sale, Blyth said.

Beedie is also in the process of rezoning 8138 North Fraser Way for a 101,000-square-foot warehouse and office building which will be leased by Loblaw Companies Ltd.

Elsewhere in Burnaby, Gastown Brewing Company, founded by the same group that owns Steamworks Brew Pub, has leased more than 29,000 square feet at 3845 William St. to use as a brewery for its pale ale and pilsner products currently being sold at BC Liquor stores.

The company plans to have a small retail shop as part of the operation which is in a highly desirable location near both Highway 1 and Lougheed Highway, Blyth said.

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