Generally speaking, there’s only been three options for small and medium sized businesses interested in setting up shop in the Stavanger Drive commercial district: lease an existing space, purchase a building bigger than what you need, or build from scratch to suit your needs.
A fourth option is forthcoming with a new commercial condo project on the lower portion of Aberdeen Avenue under development by York Construction.
“We're just trying to do something unique down here where business owners who only want 1,800 or 2,000 (square feet), which seems to be the number everybody needs, can buy their own spot and not have to lease,” York owner Peter Batson says of the Aberdeen Square project.
A business can determine how much of the 26,000 square foot building they’ll require, purchase the space outright and work with York and its designers to tailor it to the business’s needs, whether it’s for a retail operation or a professional services operation like a dentist or accountant.
Like a residential condo, owners pay a monthly fee that covers all aspects of building management from general maintenance, snow clearing, landscape, pest control and garbage removal.
“All the things that you would pay anyway if you owned your own place, and even if you rent, it's built into the rent,” explained Batson.
A portion of that fee will also go towards a reserve fund used to complete capital upgrades as the building ages.
Project realtor Chris Duff of ReMax says much like investing in residential real estate is a means creating long-term stability and equity, so is investing in commercial real estate.
“A project like this provides so much potential for expansion down the road. It leaves them open-ended with options because they own the property, if they need to expand and move they still own the property, they can lease and turn it into an alternate income source,” says Duff.
“There's a lot of business advantage to this.”
The property owner also has the right to remodel, redesign or renovate their space as they see fit without being limited by landlord constraints and budgets.
While there’s been significant interest from smaller players in the business community, no one has signed on the dotted line just yet. Still Batson is already in for 2,200 square feet that will become the new home of York and there are prospective clients working with designers on roughly 12,000 square feet.
Duff admits that they’ve come across some hesitancy on the part of interested businesses.
“People are either hesitant because expansion of a small business is always a scary prospect. The second one is timing, so it’s not available immediately and that’s one thing that’s quite attractive to people when they’re looking to expand. Their expansion plans are more immediate than long term, it seems.”
That might make it a harder sell than a leasable space ready to go, but Batson and Duff are confident that their marketing package and ability to utilize technology to help potential buyers envision their space, coupled with the building’s versatility, are strong selling points.
“If I need 9,000 square feet, I can get it. If I need 1,800 square feet, I can get it,” says Duff.
“It just expands and contracts on the price based on your square footage needs.”
The base unit price is $210 per square foot with end units costing a little more, giving the building a value of approximately $5.6 million once all units are sold.
While Batson is hopeful they’ll have buyers lined up in the next four months, one way or another construction starts in April and he says they’ll be using the concrete tilt-up method, where the building’s walls are poured on site in large slabs of concrete and then raised into position around the perimeter of the building.
The method is lauded for it’s durability, safety, and cost savings in construction, maintenance and reduced operating costs thanks to superior insulation.
“You’re getting good value in the building itself. It’s not something that's going to fall down or deteriorate in 20 years,” says Batson. “Everyone knows the strength of concrete. It’s just indestructible.”
The focus now is on the primary building, but the long-term plans for Aberdeen Square call for another two separate buildings on the lot.
“If someone came to us tomorrow and really wanted to lease one of those, we would probably build it. But the goal is to get the commercial condos done and get people in there,” says Batson.
Learn more about the project and the financing options available at yorkbuilt.ca/aberdeen.