Industrial space for lease in St. Catharines - 330 Vansickle Road #2. Unit consists of front showrooms, two washrooms, mezzanine, and warehouse with grade level door access and 18 ft. clear height.
If you’re an industrial tenant in St. Catharines or Niagara looking on commercial listing websites and noticing nothing with your criteria is coming up or if you’re calling real estate offices with similar results, that’s likely because there aren’t any… at the moment.
The best thing you can do is speak with a reputable commercial real estate broker and let them know what you are looking for and how long you can wait for it. I have conversations daily with tenant’s expressing this frustration, but, sometimes there is a solution if you talk to the right people. I have a database of properties that have leases coming due on the regular. Sometimes I have a creative solution. A conversation with the right commercial real estate broker can make a difference.
I had a conversation with an industrial tenant the other day discussing their timing and expansion options. I happened to make them aware of a building we can pursue in a few months with expansion options a year from now, an option he wouldn’t know about unless that conversation happened.
Right now I’m keeping tabs on the tenant’s looking and when availabilities come up I like to make them aware of it. If you want to be one of the tenant’s that benefits from opportunities that can be created by a commercial broker, please contact me. Don’t expect residential Realtor’s to be of the same level of assistance, their knowledge is usually limited to what is available right now, which isn’t much.
Searching for the ideal industrial building for your business goes beyond finding something that is the ideal size and budget. There are a number of features to consider in your search for industrial space for lease to ensure your term in the building is a comfortable one. Below are important criteria to keep and mind and consider in your search for industrial property, none of these are in any particular order.
1) Clear Height - Having a space that is an adequate size in footprint is useless if it doesn’t have an adequate clear height to rack your inventory high enough that you won’t run out of space. Generally speaking, if you’re a warehouse and distribution tenant, having more height allows you to rack higher and save on the number of square feet you occupy. Higher clear height often creates an opportunity to use your space more efficiently by racking up rather than expanding outward.
2) Power Supply - If you manufacture or use a lot of computers and equipment to run your operation you will want to ensure the space you are planning to lease has an adequate power supply. If your business has a requirement for 3 phase power you will want to make sure the unit is equipped with it.
3) Loading Docks - Another popular feature among warehouse and distribution tenant’s is loading docks. Loading docks are truck trailer height and allow for easy movement of inventory on and off of trucks. Unfortunately not all industrial buildings in Niagara have loading docks, in fact we likely have a shortage in comparison to other areas of the province and country. It can take a bit longer to source a building with loading docks, especially if you’re looking for something under 10,000 sq. ft. in St. Catharines or the Niagara Region. If you’re looking to relocate soon and loading docks are a priority, you may want to start your search earlier just in case.
4) Grade Level Doors - Unlike loading docks, grade level doors open at ground level, not truck trailer level. These doors are more common than loading docks and most industrial buildings have them. These doors are used by most industrial businesses however shipping and receiving inventory through them isn’t nearly as easy as using a loading dock. It’s important to make note of the sizes of grade level doors if you have larger items coming and going.
5) Location - Most industrial operations ship and receive goods by transport trucks so a location with close proximity to the highway is usually preferred. Ensuring the location is easy to get to for trucks is important. If you have a lot of employees you may want to locate somewhere with access to public transit. Some operations may prefer to have a rail spur or access to a waterway for shipping. Some industrial businesses are noisy or produce a strong odour which would be a good reason to locate somewhere a little isolated away from housing and other businesses. These are items to consider based on the demands of your business and a good industrial agent can help you find what’s best.
6) Truck Access - Further to the point above you need to ensure the property itself can allow for the proper flow of trucks to ensure shipments and deliveries come and go as you expect them to. There are some poorly designed properties that make it very difficult for trucks to come and go as they should and those properties should be avoided.
7) Type of Heating - The two most common forms of heating in industrial buildings is either forced air gas or radiant tube. Usually it’s a matter of preference but there are some businesses that can’t work with one or the other for various reasons. In terms of efficiency, in a warehouse setting many operations tend to have a preference for radiant heat as it heats the surfaces and not the air, that way when someone opens a grade level door you don’t lose all your heat.
8) Parking - If you have a lot of employees and a good portion of them own vehicles, you need to ensure the building you have selected has enough parking capacity, otherwise you can run into an issue.
9) Office Space - Most industrial businesses have some requirement for office but not all. For those that do, the space space is rarely more than 10-20% of the total size of the unit. You won’t find exactly what you’re looking for so it’s best to keep the big picture in mind and ensure the industrial/warehouse portion of the space meets your needs more than the office. The office is an after thought that can be modified if necessary.
10) Column Spacing - Depending on your equipment, the flow of your manufacturing, the type of racking you have etc., you may need to keep the distance between columns in mind. For example, if you need to fit a 25 foot machine in between columns that are only 20 feet apart, you have a problem. It’s important to share minimum column spacing requirements with you Realtor to keep note of in the hunt for space.
11) Plumbing and Drainage - Aside from needing a washroom and a kitchen, some industrial operations require additional plumbing and drains throughout their unit. Make sure the buildings you have focused on can have plumbing and drains where needed for your business to function as it should.
12) Work with a Commercial Real Estate Agent - I’ve complained about this in other blogs and I can’t state it enough, now is not the time to hire the agent that sold your house. If you expect knowledge and competence when making a major commitment to a long term lease, you want to ensure your requirements are fulfilled and you want your interests protected. The best way to do this is to hire a commercial real estate agent who has the knowledge, skills, and experience in industrial real estate leasing to help you pull that off. Using an agent that sells houses and doesn’t possess those qualities can create a lot of headaches and unwanted problems during the process and well after the move.
If you want to know more about finding the ideal industrial building please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions.
Most main artery roads in St. Catharines have commercial retail plazas but if you’re looking for the most prime, high traffic areas you will want to consider one of the areas below or close proximity.
1) Fourth Avenue - Located just off of Highway 406 where Welland Avenue from central St. Catharines turns into 4th Ave. and continues into the West end of the city with new plazas and the hospital. This stretch is arguably one of the highest traffic areas of the city, it’s also an area of the city that is still growing (to an extent). You can find most retail amenities in this area of the city with big box stores in the Smart Centres developments, medical buildings around the hospital, and other retail buildings that house a mix of local and franchise tenant’s. A great deal of benefit can be had to locating in this area but it comes at a price with base rental rates usually starting around $18 per sq. ft.
2) Glendale Avenue (Penn Centre area) - The stretch of Glendale that runs from Merritt Street , under Highway 406 and ends after the Penn Centre is another commercial district that is incredibly high traffic. There is a mix of new buildings, old buildings, and even some nice redeveloped buildings such as where The Keg and Johnny Rocco’s, as well as the city’s largest shopping mall the Penn Centre. With a diverse mix of retailers, food options, and even government services such as the passport office, it’s no wonder Glendale Avenue is packed with traffic during business hours. You might be able to find base rents as low as $16 per sq. ft. in older buildings but you will likely be paying over $20 in most areas.
3) YMCA Drive / Fairview Mall - This is actually a large block of big box retailers and a shopping mall located next to the QEW highway. It is bordered by Lake Street to the West, the QEW to the South and Geneva Street to the East. The Fairview Mall is actually quite small but has some notable tenant’s such as Chapters, Ikea, LCBO and grocery stores such as Zerhs and Food Basics. One of the largest traffic draws in this block is Costco which is connected off YMCA Drive along with Home Depot, Pet’s Mart, and a YMCA. This is retail area may be the most central in the city and there is quite a bit of plaza development and traffic in the surrounding neighbourhoods as a result.
Other notable high traffic commercial retail areas would be Ontario Street from Calrton to the QEW, Lake Street from the QEW to Lakeport, Lakeshore Road from Lakeport to Geneva, Scott Street from Vine to Niagara, Welland Ave from Grantham to Bunting, Hartzel Road from Queenston to Merritt, Port Dalhousie, and downtown.
Searching for industrial buildings for lease or sale in Niagara won’t provide you with many options in our current market, especially if you are looking in St. Catharines. It’s a market where you will need to act quick if you do happen to find industrial space for lease, but where should you focus your efforts in searching?
St. Catharines has five main industrial parks to look into, each with its own advantages. I separate each with the labels of the East End, West End, Port Weller, Hiscott, and Secord/Nihan. There are some pockets of industrial buildings that can be found throughout the city, however, the majority of industrial buildings and businesses can be found in these areas.
Arguably the largest industrial park in St. Catharines is the East End which is bordered by the canal to the East, Welland Avenue to the North, The service roads (Dieppe and Dunkirk) to the South, and it sort of sprawls West past Bunting along the highway and service roads and even a little past the other side of the highway on Welland Ave and and Berryman. The closest highway access point for this industrial business park is Niagara Street at QEW. The types of businesses in this area are a diverse mix and the street often has a reputation for catering to specific industries. Take Bunting Road for example, you will find a lot of showroom uses often catering to the home/building improvements, home and building decor, and furniture. The service roads, and Welland Avenue will offer some service based industries as well as warehouse, distribution, and manufacturing. Cushman Road and Seapark Drive attracts mostly warehouse and distribution with some heavier manufacturing uses mixed in. There seems to be quite a few cabinet makers in the area along with some automotive uses if the building allows for it. The advantage locating an industrial business in this area is that the rent is usually reasonable, and with being the largest industrial park there are often other businesses in close proximity you can create a working relationship with.
Depending on the type of business you operate, the West End industrial parks of St. Catharines have been growing rapidly and may be the most sought after location for cleaner industrial uses. This area is comprised of Vansickle Road to the West, Louth to the East, St. Paul West to the South, and Benfield to the North… and even though it’s a few minutes up Martindale, I classify the business park on Hannover Drive to be part of the West End industrial park because the types of buildings and businesses they attract are quite similar. As far as industrial real estate rents go, the West End tends to have the highest in the city, and because most of the buildings are newer and offer some different zoning options, the additional rents are often higher due to higher property tax. The advantage comes to those who want a building and location with a more prestigious look which mostly caters to the showroom, service, and distribution based businesses. While you can certainly find manufacturing in this area you definitely won’t notice dirty operations. The West End industrial business park of St. Catharines enjoys highway access from QEW at Martindale Road as well as Highway 406 at Fourth Ave.
Port Weller, in my opinion, is an unusual location for an industrial park. Back in the day some businesses may have set up shop here due to proximity to the canal and lake access, but it has grown and expanded beyond that. The area is setup with Lakeshore Road to the South, the canal to the West, Read Road to the East, Northrup to the North, and Keefer Road running down the middle. The advantage to being in this industrial park is that it usually has the lowest rents and sale prices in the city, but that comes at a cost. For an industrial park, Port Weller can be a bit isolating for multiple reasons, mostly to do with location. Industrial businesses tend to enjoy close highway access but in this park, it can often take 10 minutes or longer to get and from the highway, or much longer if the bridge is up. The other location disadvantage is that this area is on the other side of the canal from the rest of the city so in terms of access and amenities most things are on the other side of the canal bridge which goes up and down for ships most of the year. Not only is this area a considerable distance from the highway, employees and deliveries can be frequently delayed by the canal bridge. Speaking of employees they will need to have a car to reach this area of the city because the bus service ends on the other side of the canal. Businesses that are attracted to Port Weller due to the cost difference should definitely keep the location disadvantages in mind before committing your business to being there long term.
I consider both Hiscott and Secord/Nihan industrial parts to be small but centrally located with very quick highway access through QEW at Ontario Street or Lake Street interchanges. The buildings in these neighbourhoods often cater to smaller uses that are service, showroom, or distribution based. Rents in this area are fairly average but can easily be as high as the West End depending on the quality of building and location and vacancies are usually rare.
So there you have it, a simplified breakdown of the industrial neighbourhoods of St. Catharines. If you are having difficulty determining where is right for your business, don’t hesitate to contact me for more detailed insight.
If you are an industrial tenant in St. Catharines or the Niagara Region looking for space under 10,000 sq. ft., you have probably noticed there is little or nothing to pick from. We have reached a point in our market where if something comes available, tenant’s need to act quickly. This is especially true for quality industrial space which there is indeed a shortage of. I’m now in the habit of listing leasing opportunities well in advance of their occupancy date.
At the moment I have two great industrial spaces coming available in 2019 at 101 Hannover Drive in St. Catharines. The building is located in a professional business park very close to the QEW highway and Martindale Road, surrounded by plenty of amenities.
The first unit is 5600 sq. ft. and will be available in April or May. The unit features 18 ft. clear height and a grade level door. The space is still tenanted so interior photos will follow.
The second unit is 9300 sq. ft will be available at the end of 2019. and is equipped with a loading dock, grade level door, and 1-2 tonne cranes which is an incredibly rare find in this market. Interior photos will be posted shortly.
If you’re an industrial tenant in need of quality space in St. Catharines I would love to hear from you to see if this property or any others might be of interest.
This may seem like an odd blog to appear on a website about commercial leasing, but trust me it's not irrelevant. I have been a vegan for over 8 years now and it is a particularly interesting time in history to be a vegan. Veganism or plant based living have been lifestyle concepts for much longer than people think but the number of people who now identify themselves as vegan has exploded in the last few years. We believe veganism has passed its tipping point and is now spreading like wildfire.
So what does veganism have to do with commercial real estate?
To start, veganism goes beyond food choices although that is usually the starting point for someone adopting a vegan lifestyle. A vegan is a person that abstains from consuming or using animal products so it goes beyond avoiding meat, dairy and eggs in your diet. Most vegans will go to great lengths to eliminate animal products in their clothing, accessories, furniture, decor, and vehicles where it may be common to come across ivory, leather, bone, pearls, feathers, and so on. To go even further vegan's will avoid any activity that puts animals in captivity or exploits them which include zoos, aquariums, and animal based theme parks. The decision to go vegan is usually motivated by a mix of health, compassion, and environmental concerns. While veganism is a personal choice, plant based living is a very community based lifestyle which has evolved into a trend towards vegan real estate for such communities to thrive.
So what is vegan real estate? In the most basic sense we can make the assumption that vegan real estate is a property that is free of animal products but it can go way beyond that. Most vegans are concerned about the environment so they desire a structure that was built with sustainable materials (if possible or available) and incorporates green energy sources (if possible or available). But nothing much about that goes beyond the scope of what people would already describe as being environmentally friendly, so what more does it need to be classified as vegan?
Going back to the community aspect of plant based living, vegans don't necessarily limit their social circles to other vegans only, but they do enjoy being surrounded by like minded people on the regular. For that reason vegan establishments and neighbourhoods have started to pop up such as Vegandale in Toronto. Other examples do exist throughout North America mostly along the West Coast in the United States and in areas of Hawaii. Even taking a local Niagara example, Downtown St. Catharines has a very noticeable vegan population with many businesses in the area catering to the lifestyle.
The way this impacts real estate is that vegan businesses will want to work with like minded vegan commercial real estate brokers. Vegan businesses will also want to be located among like minded businesses and community members so that they can easily attract their ideal customer demographic. From a leasing perspective they may be focused on creating restrictions on surrounding uses being contrary to the lifestyle and customer base (if possible). For tenant's in the food service business there will likely be emphasis on pest prevention rather than pest control. These are just some of many examples of how a commercial real estate lease can cater to vegan businesses or landlord's.
The conclusion? It is clear that vegans act just like many cultural groups in that they like to locate close to each other for community aspect and sometimes have an obvious presence in certain neighbourhoods as both residents and businesses. As the number of people who identify as vegans increases we will see its influence and impact on commercial and residential real estate developments, neighbourhoods, and communities in years to come. While the concept of vegan real estate may seem vague and obscure to most, the influence in real estate is still fresh and will evolve into something bigger and better over time as more of the population transitions to this lifestyle.
As Canada's only vegan commercial real estate broker I love hearing from plant based business owners and answering questions on this subject so feel free to reach out.
If you're an industrial tenant on the move in the Niagara Region you have probably noticed by now that there isn't much out there to select from, especially if your business is under 5000 sq. ft. Even for larger tenant's it's still slim picking.
What we are experiencing is simply a supply and demand issue. There are an abundance of tenant's looking but simply not enough property available. In St. Catharines for example, this has caused average base rents to escalate quickly over the last few years from an average around $5 to $6 per sq. ft. towards $7 per sq. ft. in 2018. (keep in mind these rental rates are for quality spaces)
There appears to be no end in sight for the supply and demand issue in the industrial market. While the Niagara Region is expanding and bustling with residential development, there has been very little development in the industrial sector to create more supply and cool the lease rates for available space. With landlord's enjoying low vacancy rates combined with higher rental rates there is a lack of desperation to be flexible and negotiable for new and existing tenant's.
It's important for industrial tenant's to make sure they are working with a knowledgable commercial / industrial realtor for access to the most up to date opportunities, and to ensure they are being competitive enough when they find the building they want to pursue. Submitting a well written competitive offer will increase your chances of success so it's important to make sure you're working with a knowledgable commercial agent for the best approach.