RENX: In Langley's zero-vacancy market, Hungerford buys industrial development site

Posted on March 10, 2023

Renx March10

Hungerford Properties continues to expand its development portfolio in British Columbia with the acquisition of a 3.83-acre Langley site where it plans two multi-tenant light industrial buildings totalling about 103,000 square feet.

“The site offers a strategic location with exposure to one of Metro Vancouver’s tightest industrial markets. The current vacancy rate in GVA’s industrial market is at 0.2 per cent and (is) zero per cent in Langley, according to Colliers’ Q4 Industrial Market Report,” said Michael Hungerford, partner of the Vancouver-based real estate investment company.

The current site was home to two industrial buildings built in the 1970s with additional yard storage.

“It’s location, location, location with real estate and the City of Langley is a very pro-development municipality," Hungerford said. "With the investment coming to the city centre with rapid transit and the amount of retail amenity nearby and the population growth in that immediate market, it’s just a very compelling fundamental.

"And then, of course, limited industrial land supply presents a strong opportunity for meeting commercial business needs in the market."

The Langley industrial site

The site is in the downtown industrial area of Langley, minutes from the future 196 Street Skytrain extension.

Hungerford said the project is moving immediately full-steam ahead as the company has a “really strong conviction in the industrial market.”

“We’re an experienced developer. Well capitalized,” he said.

“I’ve always been advised by great grandfather, grandfather, father over the years that Vancouver has just strong fundamentals with the limited land supply and it’s such a desirable place to live and work.

"And the demand comes from many different industries."

He described Vancouver as a diversified market with strong population and economic growth; fundamentals that add up to "strong real estate demand, scarce land supply . . . and with a prudent amount of leverage, groups do very well in the long run investing and developing and managing real estate.”

Depending on the city approval process, Hungerford said the hope is to start construction by early 2024.

“Langley is friendly to new development, especially to a development that fits within their community plan, in an area of the market that’s under-served (by) light industrial space,” Hungerford said.

“The City of Langley has almost no vacancy. It’s literally zero per cent vacancy, which is hard to believe. There’s just no space.

"So we’ll bring it to market right away and we believe the municipality will be very supportive and will move this as fast as we can. Our hope is to finish construction sometime in probably a year-and-a-half, two years from now.”

Hungerford said the Lower Mainland as a whole is a land-constrained market. There are plenty of geographic reasons for that, as well as zoning reasons including the agricultural land reserve.

“These factors really put pressure on availability of industrial product for businesses and then of course we’re in a very fast-growing part of Canada with strong immigration and business growth as well and when demand goes up with a very limited amount of supply, it’s Economics 101,” he said.

Hungerford's future projects

Hungerford Properties has a number of other projects on the go in the region.

The Xchange Business Park is a 140-acre industrial development with over 1.2 million square feet in 11 buildings in Abbotsford. Hungerford is in partnership with QuadReal on that project.

“It’s a sizeable project. It will represent thousands of jobs for the Abbotsford community and we’re very excited to be bringing that to market right away," Hungerford said.

"We started constructing the first couple of buildings. We’ve got our permits and we’re eager to lease those buildings.

“It’s certainly going to be very important for the community out there for jobs."

Hungerford expects to complete the first buildings by the end of 2023 and buildings will be delivered in a sequenced way thereafter.

"It’s really exciting and there’s strong amenities nearby with the main TransCanada Highway, near the airport, the border crossing, the Highstreet (Shopping Centre) just down the road which is a great retail amenity and Abbotsford, similar to Langley, has very low vacancy and there’s lots of demand from businesses for industrial space.”

Another major project is Archetype in Vancouver with 35,000 square feet of creative industrial strata, 69,000 square feet of office strata and more than 200 rental homes. It is located at 220 East 1st Ave.

Archetype is under construction and estimated completion is mid-2025.

“It’s a really innovative use of industrial land to serve different needs in the community, especially in an urban environment,” Hungerford said.

Hungerford said the company has an "interesting project" it will be bringing to the market across the street from the Production Way SkyTrain station in Burnaby that it will unveil "very soon."

It has been acquiring industrial land holdings as well.

“We’re also a diversified business so we’re doing residential projects as well and mixed-use and we’re very active in the self-storage space, building and managing self-storage facilities,” he added.

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