Most today think of Leaside as a desirable urban residential enclave but forget its hard industrial past.
Like the dated industrial buildings that reside east of Laird, the seniors – many of whom worked at those very factories and raised families in the post-World War II, 550 sq. ft. bungalows – are being displaced. The current generation of residents is dominated by larger, more affluent families who demand ready access to all forms of retail and services.
You could argue that First Pro was among the first retail developers to capitalize on this demographic shift, and through their plaza, changed the face of commercial real estate in Leaside. In 1996, they purchased 28 acres of redundant industrial land from Canada Wire and Cable (producer of shells and other munitions for both world wars) for just over $62,000 per acre and created a big box retail centre that quickly changed shopping and traffic patterns within the neighbourhood and proved without a doubt there was demand for large format retail existing cheek by jowl with residential Leaside.
Less than a decade later, the 8.5-acre former Winpak Ltd. site at 85 Laird was purchased by an auto dealer for $1,155,000 per acre and subsequently sold at a slight discount to First Capital, which constructed the Longo’s anchored mall. Commercial land on Laird had appreciated 1,800% in just one decade!
Large sites and small sites tend to have different valuations. Traffic volume, signalized corners’ proximity to demand generators all impact value, and so, too, does time. It’s no surprise that values have continued to increase. The most recent sale was 199 Laird, a body shop at the northeast corner of Wicksteed and Laird, which traded a decade after the First Capital plaza. (See our story on Four Seasons Auto Collision in this issue.) This 1.2-acre site at the edge of what is purported to be a future Walmart fetched a price of $8,750,000 per acre…or a whopping 10 times what First Capital paid in 2006 and 140 times that of First Pro’s acquisition in 1996.
And we thought that the values of our houses had appreciated!
Earl Kufner is the Senior Vice President, Multi-Residential Advisory Group, at Jones Lang LaSalle.