Ground Breaks on $65M Toronto-Area Cold Storage Facility

An industrial build-to-suit designed by Tippmann Innovation for Penta Properties moves forward.
Tippmann Innovation's Sierra Cold Storage Facility, Hamilton, Ontario
Tippmann Innovation Sierra Cold Storage Facility Rendering. Image courtesy of Tippmann Innovation

Penta Properties has commenced work on a new build-to-suit cold storage facility for Sierra Supply Chain Services in metropolitan Toronto. Tippmann Innovation is behind the planning and design of the 280,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art industrial property, which will sprout up in Hamilton, Ontario.

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TI has had no shortage of projects on its plate as of late; it’s indicative of the company’s reputation as a specialty cold storage builder, as well as the current state of the market. “The cold storage market is very active in North America. Food facilities are in short supply and high demand,” Rob Adams, partner with Tippmann Innovation, told Commercial Property Executive.

TI’s design for Sierra’s new location is a 65-foot-tall building that is taking shape within the 1,550-acre Red Hill Business Park, near the intersection of Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway and The Red Hill Valley Parkway, roughly 45 miles southwest of downtown Toronto. In addition to 250,000 square feet of cold storage accommodations, the property will encompass 30,000 square feet of processing space. Sierra has called Hamilton home since 2013, and its new facility will mark an expansion of its freezer and cooler operations by more than 150,000 square feet.

Sierra, a longtime TI client, spent the last 18 months surveying some of the company’s recently completed facilities and working with TI’s engineering team to draft a blueprint for its own project. The result is a building that has been conceived to perfectly suit the full-service meat supplier’s needs, with a focus on energy efficiency and advanced warehouse management. Burlington Centennial Developments Ltd. is general contractor for the Sierra cold storage project, which is on track to reach completion in the spring of 2022.

Cold storage getting hotter

The cold storage sector has been on the upswing across North America for the last few years and all signs point to its continued rise. “Rapid expansion in the popularity of online grocery and pharmaceutical sales coupled with changing requirements for product safety over the past several years have drastically impacted demand for well-located, temperature-controlled storage facilities,” according to a mid-year 2020 report by Savills. “The growth of online grocery sales has stoked demand for additional cold storage warehousing space in the U.S. and Canada, but the cost and complexity of constructing temperature-controlled storage facilities has caused the inventory pipeline to lag. Developers are not building fast enough to meet demand.”

Such was the status of cold storage even before the arrival of the global pandemic. “The current COVID-19 crisis has only amplified this shortage as demand has skyrocketed amid widespread ‘stay-at-home’ online ordering and panic buying. This has left grocers, as well as pharmaceutical and biomedical producers and distributors, scrambling to balance product safety with customer service level requirements across their businesses,” according to the Savills report.