A former brownfield site on the banks of the Fraser River in Burnaby will soon be the home of Canada's first large bay multi-level industrial property. Oxford Properties Group recently unveiled plans to develop the 707,000-square-foot, two-storey project at Riverbend Business Park, a 1.35 million-square-foot masterplanned redevelopment of a former paperboard milling operation.

An amenity pier connects to public walking trails, image via Oxford Properties Group

"Vancouver is one of the tightest industrial markets in the world and space for businesses that service the region—be it through manufacturing, logistics or e-commerce—is in critically short supply," said Jeff Miller, Head of Industrial at Oxford Properties. "This shortage requires bold solutions and progressive approaches, and we have studied innovative industrial projects from across the globe to inform our plan to develop Canada's first multi-level property. By doing so, we can add density to the already established Riverbend Business park, a former brownfield site, without the need to encroach on greenfield or agricultural land."

The main floor of the building will contain 437,000 square feet of space with 32-foot heights. The second storey's 270,000 square feet and 28-foot-high ceilings will be accessible to full size transport trailers via a heated ramp. If necessary, a single customer could occupy the full contiguous space of the building, making it the largest available industrial property in Greater Vancouver. Alternatively, the two floors can be split to accommodate multiple tenants as small as 70,000 square feet.

Riverbend Business Park Distribution Facility, image via Oxford Properties Group

An amenity pier stretching out into the Fraser River and walking trails connecting to the public trail system will aid in employee wellness. "The war for talent does not stop at office workers, so providing an attractive and amenity-rich working environment can be crucial in helping our customers attract and retain talent," said Miller. "Whether Oxford is building a warehouse or a skyscraper, we never lose sight of the fact that a customer's working environment is critical for running a successful operation."

The 65-acre site, which also housed a 14-acre landfill, was purchased by Oxford in 2011. Since then, over 300,000 cubic metres of waste and debris has been removed and converted back into developable land. Restorative efforts targeted at the Fraser River shoreline have helped protect native species. Invasive and non-native plant species were removed, improvements to fish habitats were made, and shoreline erosion protection measures were installed.

Site preparation work has already begun, with completion anticipated in 2022. Multi-storey industrial concepts are also starting to emerge in other North American markets like San FranciscoNew York City and Seattle

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