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Developers of Western Speedway lands gauge interest in industrial space

Early plans call for homes on small lots at the southwest end of the 81-acre property, with a 50-acre business park on the bulk of the remaining land.

Developers planning a mixed-use development on the Western Speedway lands have made their first foray into the marketplace to determine commercial-industrial interest in what’s been dubbed Langford Heights.

Bastion Development Corporation and Strand Holdings, which bought the Western Speedway lands from the Wille family, intend to establish a business and industrial park on the site as well as a residential component in later phases of what is expected to be at least a five-year build-out.

Early plans call for homes on small lots at the southwest end of the 81-acre property, with a 50-acre business park on the bulk of the remaining land that could house a film studio, hotel and variety of other uses.

Reid Kaufmann, vice-president of Bastion Development, said the company is speaking with prospective tenants while work begins on servicing the land, and is open to inquiries from all comers.

“What we are going for is a good mix,” he said — everything from film-production facilities and complementary businesses to large-scale distribution centres, automobile services, small retailers and offices.

The goal is to provide a “complete business park” that can cater to larger companies that need room for truck access and outdoor storage facilities.

The plan also includes re-establishing green space on what is largely a concrete and asphalt site, with a community park and an enhancement project for Millstream Creek, which runs through the centre of the site.

Kaufmann said the mix of retail, services, large industrial users and outdoor amenities and parks should turn the project into a community destination.

Ty Whittaker, vice-president with commercial real estate firm Colliers Victoria, said Bastion and Strand’s plans have already garnered plenty of interest.

“So far we’ve had some good traction on this from a number of groups,” said Whittaker. “The types of groups we’re seeing so far are those that need land and a little elbow room instead of the small-bay stuff that’s being developed by other developers, where you get a unit and a few parking stalls but no on-site storage.”

Whittaker said there is no end of demand for this kind of space, which may explain why so many industrial parks are breaking ground.

Vancouver developer PC Urban Properties has two industrial strata projects planned for the West Shore, a 160,000-square-foot project in Langford, and another 135,000-square-foot industrial park in Colwood, both of which are geared for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Recent studies suggest industrial vacancy is at 0.4 per cent in Victoria and 0.1 per cent in the West Shore.

Whittaker noted about one million square feet of industrial space was developed and absorbed by the market over the last 10 years, while more than three million square feet of industrial space is in the planning and development stage.

He said it will likely be spoken for quickly, as there are mainland investors interested, as well as local businesses that need space to expand their ventures.

“There’s not a lot of zoned land ready to go with an active developer willing to cater to what people need,” he said.

Whittaker said the project will be developed in phases, starting with about 11 lots near the entrance to the site off Millstream Road.

Kaufmann said he expects to see buildings coming out of the ground in the third quarter of 2022.

Western Speedway has been told it can race at the speedway until the fall of next year. The developers of Langford Heights have offered $2.5 million to help find a new spot and build a new race track.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

Note to readers: PC Urban Properties' industrial strata project is not located in the Westhills development. Incorrect information appeared in previous version of this story.