Multimodal logistics village taking shape near Cornwall could be first of many, Avenue 31 CEO says

Avenue 31, the Ottawa-based real estate and development company behind the National Capital Business Park, is launching a new project dubbed Camino-Long Sault, a proposed multimodal logistics village near Cornwall.

“Camino is a brand we want to grow to develop a series of inland ports in Canada,” Michel Pilon, CEO of Avenue 31, told EOBJ. “Our vision with Long Sault is to develop an inland port with rail access and the ability to cater to the shifting needs of large companies involved in consumer products, or a whole range of commodities and goods.” 

The company has secured 675 acres on Hwy. 401 at Moulinette Road in Long Sault, west of Cornwall. The site has nearly two km of frontage on Hwy. 401 and three km of double CN rail line to the south, which is certified by Canadian National Railways as rail-ready.  

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“This project will attract huge investments to the Township of South Stormont,” said Tara Kirkpatrick, manager of economic development with the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (SDG). “When complete, it is expected to create more than one thousand new jobs, which will stimulate our local economy and put SDG counties on the map as a top region to invest in.”

Camino-Long Sault addresses a Canada-wide scarcity of modern warehousing and logistics spaces. In a recent report, global real estate and investment brokerage CBRE says that availability of industrial space has been at all-time lows in the region, with rental rates rising every quarter for the past three years.

“(Hwy.) 401, a major transportation route to begin with, has seen significant interest for that reason and with transportation costs the way they are, anything along rail lines can carry a huge premium as well,” said Steve Piercey, vice-president of advisory and transaction services with CBRE.

In some small towns along Hwy. 401, Piercey says older buildings have been turned into warehouse spaces. However, he adds, there’s little inventory to choose from now and rental rates have doubled in the past three years. For example, rental rates in Brockville used to average four dollars per square foot but are now more than eight dollars per square foot.

Avenue 31 is approaching the Camino-Long Sault project with a sustainability lens, taking advantage of the topography of the property and the availability of rail.

“From the beginning, we really looked at the natural features of the site and used them in the design,” said Jennifer Murray, vice-president of land development at Avenue 31.

There are 80 to 100 acres of woodland and wetland in the middle of the property that Murray says will provide natural drainage for the site. The company also plans to build a county road through the site using existing topsoil to plant trees and build berms.

The Camino-Long Sault project is at the draft plan of the subdivision application process and construction could begin this year.  

Avenue 31 is already in talks with potential anchor tenants. Aiming for larger volume warehouses, the company says it plans to provide 36- to 50-foot clearances on a portion of the total square footage, but ultimately that will depend on the needs of users. 

Officials at all levels are welcoming the new development.

“Avenue 31 are great to work with, they’ve had public meetings to ensure the public has a say, they’ve been forthcoming since the commencement of discussion with the township and staff, and we can’t say enough about how accommodating they are as we are to them,” said South Stormont Mayor Bryan McGillis.

“This project, strategically located along the international border, along the rail corridor, as well as (Hwy.) 401, will be sure to garner interest,” said Nolan Quinn, MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.

“I am happy to see that South Stormont is recognizing the potential along this important corridor and are working on site plan logistics to make this happen. Our region can and should play a key role in easing the strains on national supply chains,” said Eric Duncan, MP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.

From Pilon’s point of view, the Camino-Long Sault project is the opportunity of a lifetime.

“Sometimes in a career you know you find something as a land developer, you find a piece of land where the story unfolds and you can’t believe how much potential it has and you just run with it,” said Pilon, adding that the name is inspired by the Camino trail in Europe. “This is the first of a network of multimodal logistic villages across Canada.”

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