When Vancouver real estate developer Michael Hungerford first saw the massive former Haworth building which was for sale in Calgary, he had one initial thought.
“This is a building that has an impressive first impression,” he said, of the structure which was originally built by Calgary entrepreneur Mogens Smed. “It’s got quality literally dripping from it. There was no expense spared in the design and the quality of it. So my first reaction was this is a sleeping giant if you will. This is a real opportunity that somebody with some passion and some vision can really exploit and that’s what we’re doing.”
Today, Hungerford Properties, which bought the 761,000-square-foot facility on more than 18 hectares of land in the city’s southeast Foothills Industrial area, will transform the building, once Calgary’s largest manufacturing plant, into a business park with multiple tenants.
On Tuesday, Hungerford, a partner in the company, who was in Calgary on the eve of an open house event for the facility, said the multi-million dollar project for the new Icon Business Park is an indication of the developer’s confidence in the city’s industrial and suburban real estate markets.
“The position of Calgary and the economy is a strong one with the people here, the skills, the headquarters. The growth in the logistics area in particular is very good right now,” said Hungerford. “We envision that most of the demand will come from oil service, engineering, office users for the office portion of the Icon Business Park. On the warehouse side, we envision a lot of the demand will come from logistics primarily and some manufacturing.
“We’re taking a long-term vision . . . This is a long-term investment for us. The long-term outlook for all of the markets in Calgary we feel very good about and so that’s why we have the confidence to do this.”
The entire building and site, which also has amenities such as a fitness centre, basketball court and a lake with fountains and walking trails around it, will see its 676,000 square feet of warehouse space – the size of 12 football fields – be sectioned off for up to 10 different tenants while the 85,000 square feet of office space will accommodate up to five tenants in a more than $10-million redevelopment.
The property’s redesign will include more than 60 new dock doors, exterior landscaping and customizing the interiors to meet the requirements of new tenants.
The Haworth facility was built in 1999 by Calgary entrepreneur Mogans Smed.
An industrial real estate report by Cushman & Wakefield said the overall vacancy in Calgary was 7.2 per cent at the end of 2013 compared with 6.2 per cent at the end of 2012. It said the nearly 1.3 million square feet of significant new projects to be delivered in 2014 will be absorbed “given the existing pent up demand and vacancy is expected to fall moderately during the year as absorption takes place.”
The Icon Business Park is located at 10 Smed Lane S.E. Haworth, the original tenant, will be the first office leasing tenant under Hungerford.
The Haworth building was originally put on the Calgary market for sale in the spring of 2010. The Haworth manufacturing facility was listed for sale as the U.S.-based company wound down production in the city.
Although the original list price was not revealed, the property was assessed for $60 million at the time and was being marketed internationally.
Smed International operated in Calgary from 1982 to 2000, at which time the facility was purchased by Haworth.
Haworth, which designs and manufactures office furniture and workspaces, is headquartered in Holland, Mich. In August 2009, the manufacturer announced it was cutting about 600 jobs in Calgary as it was consolidating its Calgary manufacturing operations to west Michigan.
Source: Calgary Herald