Broccolini plans 700,000-square-foot distribution warehouse in North Gower

Fresh off its enormous industrial development for Amazon in Ottawa’s east end, Broccolini is gearing up to build a new 700,000-square-foot warehouse in North Gower designed for similar use.

The Montreal-based company filed preliminary plans this past summer for a development at 1966 Roger Stevens Dr., just off Highway 416. The proposal would see a distribution warehouse featuring 63 loading bays, with 1,820 parking spots and capacity for between 1,100 and 1,700 employees.

A portion of the 121-acre site, currently occupied by a cornfield and a few farm structures, is already zoned for an industrial-use building with a footprint of up to 1.4 million square feet. 

Rather than build out, however, Broccolini is looking to the sky: the proposed development would have a height as high as 30 metres, which translates to a building nearly nine storeys tall.

Broccolini is seeking amendments to the official plan and existing zoning bylaws to allow for the proposed heights and for industrial use across the entire site.

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A concept site plan for Broccolini's proposed 700,000-square-foot development in on Roger Stevens Drive.

James Beach, Broccolini’s director of real estate and development, told OBJ there’s no word yet on an estimated cost for the project, which is still in the early days of the planning process. He said the cost per square foot could range from $85 to $200, depending on the final use and any existing servicing on the site, putting the final price tag anywhere between $59.5 million and $140 million.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Ottawa Real Estate Forum Thursday, Beach said the proposed development does not yet have a tenant secured, but that Broccolini would not break ground on such a sizeable project without first getting one on board.

He did say the current proposal is meant to rezone the site specifically for e-commerce distributors – a similar use case to Broccolini’s one-million-square-foot warehouse built for Amazon on Boundary Road.

The height, for example, is meant to reflect the typical distributor’s need for massive amounts of inventory in an efficient space. The rise of e-commerce has meant a shift in focus in industrial-use builds from square footage to cubic footage, Beach told OBJ, noting the firm is also building a Montreal facility now with a height of 120 feet.

If Broccolini gets approval for a zoning amendment to build the height it needs, then the developer will be ready to move when it does lock down a tenant for the site.

“We’re simply moving the site forward to make it ready, to then be in a position to respond to potential tenant RFPs,” Beach said.

Beach said the company is also cognizant of any potential “negative effects” on the surrounding community as a result of its proposal. In response to concerns that a 24/7 warehouse facility would yield an overwhelming level of activity in the 2,000-person village, Beach said the company’s plans will have a smaller impact on the North Gower area than a project built under the current zoning.

“What we're looking to do is leverage the existing rights and modify it to the benefit of, I would say, everyone involved – including the community.”