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TORONTO-In one fell swoop, nearly half of the massive AMB Property Corp. distribution center under development here has been preleased by Vitran Corp., a supply chain services provider that will use the park to expand operations for an existing client. The 1.1-million-sf Airport Road Distribution Centre is AMB’s latest entry into the Toronto industrial market, one in which the San Francisco-based REIT now controls 2.7 million sf of industrial product.

“We are pleased to welcome Vitran Logistics to the facility,” says Jay Cornforth, AMB’s managing director for the east region. Besides a presence near the Pearson International Airport, the complex provides quick access to the Trans-Canada Highway and intermodal rail yards, he relays. All of those elements factored into Vitran’s decision to commit to the property, according to the firm’s president of Canada and US Logistics, Michael Glodziak, who also cited the quality of the real estate being constructed.

“The facility meets our requirements for superior functional design, security and operational efficiency,” says Glodziak, including flexibility, exceptionally high ceilings and modern life safety systems. The property was also was one of a few choices in the region that could accommodate such a large requirement, he notes.

Demographics were also important to Vitran, both in having the necessary labor force needed to staff the operation, and in servicing a major piece of the Canadian and US consumer populations, part of the reason Toronto has emerged as the fourth largest industrial market in North America behind Los Angeles, Chicago and New Jersey/New York. An estimated 25% of Canada’s population lives in a 100-mile radius of Toronto, notes Cornforth, and half of the US population is within a day’s drive. Those figures have led AMB to begin targeting Toronto for future growth of its global platform. The REIT has other properties in nearby Milton and Mississauga and is considering other ventures as well, says Cornforth.

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