Demand is high and inventory is limited in Windsor’s booming industrial real estate market

CBC News

The former Windsor Star printing facility was listed for sale at $7.4 million

Like the summer weather, demand for industrial real estate in Windsor is heating up.

The former Windsor Star printing facility was just one major industrial site to sell recently after just six weeks on the market. With an asking price of $7.4 million and nearly 56,000 square feet of space, the sale is set to close later this summer. 

While the real estate agent handling the deal couldn’t comment on the particulars of the deal — including the final sale price — ahead of the closing, experts say the demand for industrial real estate is high, driven in part by the NextStar battery plant destined for Windsor. 

“There’s quite a demand and there has been for quite a while now,” said Stephen MacKenzie, the CEO of Invest WindsorEssex.

“Windsor is on the rise with the recent investment in the battery plant, some of the supply chain companies coming in,” he said. “There’s a very high demand for industrial space right now and there’s not a lot left on the market.”

MacKenzie said Invest WindsorEssex is working with at least a dozen potential buyers all looking for space in the tight real estate market. Other developers, he said, are looking to build industrial space. 

There’s lots of reasons for companies to look to existing industrial sites, said Greg Atkinson, acting planner for the City of Windsor. 

“These older sites are often serviced by existing roads, sewers schools, fire stations,” Atkinson said. “So when they sit vacant it’s under-utilization of land.

“There’s a big incentive for the city and for the general and taxpayers as a whole to reuse these properties and get some tax generating uses on there.”

Mark Lalovich a broker with ReMax in Windsor. He said the city is playing “catch-up” when it comes to the demand for industrial property. 

“The demand is there, but we’re short on the supply. So as a result, we have to catch up to the demand side at this point,” Lalovich said. 

He said of the industrial, commercial and investment markets — so-called ICI markets — industrial is currently the strongest in Windsor. The challenge is inventory, he said. 

While parts of some larger industrial sites have recently sold, Lalovich said the demand is particularly high for slightly smaller facilities in the range of 10,000 to 30,000 square feet. 

Lease rates for industrial space are also up as much as 30 per cent, Lalovich said — roughly matching the increase in the cost per square foot to build.

All of that, he said, means a strong market for Windsor. 

“The demand right now is clearly there,” Lalovich said, noting the recent stall in negotiations between provincial and federal governments and Stellantis on the NextStar plant has put “a bit of a pause” on the booming market.

“But we do believe that’s going to get resolved and soon, from everything we see and hear, and we think the market [will] continue to resume its flight over the last few years.”