Plans to grow out industrial space at St. Albert's Anthony Henday Business Park (AHBP) are moving forward.
Managed by QuadReal property group, the AHBP is a 101-acre commercial and industrial business park south of LeClair Way and east of Riel Drive, with lands available for future development.
On behalf of bcIMC Realty Corporation, WSP is proposing to amend the ASP to rezone the 4.7-hectare property closest to LeClair Way from commercial to industrial commercial to expand development in the AHBP.
On Thursday, the City of St. Albert, QuadReal, and consultant WSP held an open house to talk about proposed changes to the South Riel area structure plan (ASP) and answer questions. The turnout was rather quiet with eight participants in the Zoom presentation, including city councillors Ken MacKay and Ray Watkins in attendance.
Carly Zapernick, QuadReal development manager, said the change was needed to accommodate increasing demand for larger, built-to-suit facilities in St. Albert and across the greater Edmonton area.
"It's no secret, but certainly e-commerce logistics warehousing has been a growing asset class for a number of years, and COVID has certainly accelerated that even further. So it's simply a demand-driven thing," Zapernick said. "I think coupled with that is the future of retail is just a big question mark right now, tied to the increases (of sales) online. Smaller format retail is just something no one can predict where it's going to go."
Zapernick said switching to industrial and commercial zoning for this property allows for a "broader spectrum of available uses" on the land, like a gas station with retail convenience stores.
"While the zoning certainly is more industrial in its nature, it does still allow for the introduction of some commercial, should the demand be there," she said.
Construction on a third built-to-suit industrial warehouse, spanning 197,000 sq. ft., is set to start later this year, Zapernick said.
Over the next few months, the technical report for the site will be sent to the City of St. Albert. Then the public will have a chance to talk about the proposed changes during at another public hearing before council makes its decision. Anyone who wants to comment on the changes can email either Chuck McNutt with WSP at [email protected] or Eric Schultz, city planner, at [email protected].
AHBP 'huge success story'
The business park has seen major investments since construction began in 2014. The 98,000 sq. ft. Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation (ABCRC) processing centre opened its doors in early 2019, transitioning from its old location in Edmonton. Last March, the City of St. Albert and QuadReal announced the development of a 600,000-square-foot distribution facility for shipping supply specialist Uline.
The facility is currently under construction and is expected to open later this year. During Mayor Cathy Heron's state of the city address, she said Uline will not only have the biggest commercial footprint in St. Albert, but the company could become the single biggest taxpayer and one of the biggest employers in the city. Once complete, Uline is expected to employ 100 people.
Sean McRitchie, the former city director of economic development, said there's a real opportunity to build the AHBP out in a substantial way while supporting the adjacent regional commercial in Bellevue Village and the Midtown development.
"I think you're going to see (this become a) significant employment node in our city, which is something that we desperately needed," McRitchie said in an interview with the Gazette back in October. "It's a huge success story and one I don't think is being talked about enough. I don't think there's many places in the region right now seeing the scale of development and infrastructure investment from multiple parties across the development spectrum."
According to Colliers International, St. Albert led the greater Edmonton region in industrial construction activity over the last two quarters. St. Albert had over 590,000 square feet under construction, representing more than 50 per cent of all industrial construction in the region.