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Amazon rumoured client for giant Victoria distribution complex

Global retail giant said to be client for $50 million multi-storey build-to-suit distribution centre proposed for Victoria International Airport
Renderings of new distribution centre proposed for Victoria airport. | Eagle Builders

Amazon is rumoured to be the client behind an Edmonton-based York Properties proposal for a multi--storey industrial centre at Victoria International Airport that would total more space than all the major industrial construction projects underway in Greater Victoria. It would also be the first multi-storey industrial build in the Victoria region.

York Properties would construct the complex on a 7.7-acre site as a ‘last-mile’ distribution centre for a client whose name is not being officially released yet, York spokesman Matt Woolsey said April 27.

Social media sites, and Western Investor sources, however, are buzzing with rumours that U.S.-based Amazon, the world's biggest retailer, is the client for the build-to-suit project that would total seven stories, with office space included, and cover nearly 500,000 square feet

 Construction costs would top $50 million, Woolsey said.

“It’s a big project for all of us.”

Based on the project proposal presented to Sidney council April 28, the site will be a distribution facility for a company that already services Greater Victoria. The said company is also big on electric delivery vehicles and also has a similar last mile building in Nanaimo.  Residents will recognize the company name, according to Woolsey.

That description fits Amazon, which started a delivery service in Central Sannich, about a 10-minute drive from the proposed airport project, two years ago. 

 Renderings of York’s proposed project also resemble recent Amazon fulfillment centres. 

Western Investor sources are also pointing to Amazon as the client for the 75-foot-tall, 486,937-square-foot complex that includes a parkade.

In comparison, the total size of the four largest industrial developments currently underway in Greater Victoria is 467,000 square feet, according to a first-quarter 2021 report from Colliers International, Victoria.

The proposal is moving through the approval process with the airport authority, Woolsey said, adding if York is able to build the distribution centre, it will sign a lease and start construction as soon as necessary permits are granted. The airport leases land for development, with terms ranging up to 30 years and longer. 

While the land for the project is within Sidney boundaries, the city has no sway in the development decision because it is on federal government property.

Ideally, the centre would open in spring 2022, Woolsey said. It would be located in the MacDonald East industrial zone at the airport.

There will be room for close to 800 parking stalls, with delivery drivers leaving at various times, he said.

Rod Hunchak, director of airport development, said the centre fits the airport authority’s efforts to help develop an economic generator and hub on its lands. It would be among several other industrial operations, some devoted to transportation.

Build-to-suit industrial is becoming attractive option in the Victoria area because of tight vacancies and rising lease costs.

Greater Victoria has the second-lowest industrial vacancy rate in Canada at 0.7 per cent, and development land is scarce and lease rates are among the highest in Canada, according to Colliers.

York Properties, founded in Edmonton in 1985, is a privately held, family-owned business that is well known for build-to-suit projects. Recently York partnered with Cameron Developments to develop and build various projects on 100 acres of industrial land in the County of Leduc, Alberta, and it has built and renovated build-to-suit projects in both Edmonton and Calgary.