The scarcity of industrial property in the region and the high demand for the space is driving the city to focus on building more space for businesses to set up shop, said one expert in St. Albert's economic development department.
Michael Erickson, the city's director of economic development, said the last four years has seen 1.4 million square feet of industrial space completed and absorbed in St. Albert.
“To put that in context, that’s about a third of the city’s entire industrial inventory that has been added in the last four to five years,” Erickson said.
In the past few years, St. Albert has seen large corporations open, including the Alberta Liquor Gaming and Cannabis building in 2018 and the Uline branch distribution facility — a 600,000-square-foot space set up in the Anthony Henday Business Park (AHBP)
The AHBP is also adding two new buildings, Erickson said, both slated to start construction this year, which together will offer around 400,000 square feet.
“This isn’t slowing down anytime soon,” Erickson said of construction.
“We continue to receive a ton of interest from industrial developers and from end users, from businesses that were ultimately located in some of those properties under construction,” Erickson said.
The expert said he doesn’t know if many people think about St. Albert as being a surging place for industrial companies to come for warehousing and manufacturing, but that is what the city is quickly becoming.
The Lakeview district will be the next location for businesses to develop, as the rest of the business parks in the city start to reach capacity.
Currently industrial space is scarce across the entire region and Erickson said the city sees a lot of demand for the space they have to offer to businesses.
Lakeview Business District — formerly known as the Employment Lands — comprises 618 acres west of Ray Gibbon Drive between Giroux Road and McKenney Avenue. According to the city, the preliminary servicing plans for the new business district are being completed as part of the St. Albert West Area Structure Plan and Neighbourhood Plan and the city expects these to be completed by June 2023.
The design and construction of any servicing to Lakeview will be subject to council approval in the future, city spokesperson Nicole Lynch said in an email.
The economic development department is fielding tons of calls from potential industrial development groups which have an interest in developing in the business park, Erickson said.
Some end users would be considered mega-site users — looking for more than 500 acres — while others might be smaller businesses which would be the type of users going into the Anthony Henday Business Park right now.
“For us, we sort of see that as the future, a key employment area for St. Albert, and an economic engine for St. Albert for decades to come,” Erickson said.