GTA Industrial Developments in 2022

December 3rd, 2021

“Make time for planning. Wars are won in the general’s tent.”

  • Stephen R. Covey

The holidays are coming. And with it comes a slowdown in activity as decision makers, businesses, and the rest of the industry enjoy some time off. It is a natural period in which to reflect on the past year and make plans for the future.

That being said, it’s difficult to chart a trajectory to meet any specific future goal without knowing where you currently stand; as a destination is meaningless without the proper directions.

If you have been on my list or following my blog for any period of time, then you have probably seen my reports on the GTA industrial market, including deep-dives into the historical data, trends, and notable development, sales, and leasing activity.

If you have missed any of those pieces, simply reply or contact me and I would be happy to provide any relevant information.

For the purposes of this week’s discussion, however, I wanted to give my take on what is happening as it relates to industrial developments over the past 12 months, and where, based on observations and street-level intel, I believe things are headed.

So let us begin…

Development Strategy

As you may be aware, the industrial market is being driven by e-commerce. Institutional and well-established players looking to meet this demand have and are continuing to purchase large tracts of land with the objective of creating investment-grade properties.

Specifically, the strategy is to construct brand-new, modern facilities that will attract a AAA-tenant on a long-term lease.

Once complete, it’s rinse and repeat. Because when you have a winning formula, why change it?

Looking at industrial development from first-principles, we can identify speculative and build-to-suit projects. In today’s market, design-builds do occur, however, they occur less frequently than building on spec; as per the above strategy.

Speculative developments themselves can be segmented into two main categories: industrial condominium developments with small- to mid-bay options (which make up a smaller percentage of deliveries), and warehouse/distribution Big Box buildings with large floor plates, high clear heights, and shipping capabilities (which account for the majority of the development pipeline).

This is where most of the industry players have sought opportunity. It’s also where there has been the most competition. 


One would think that in a market with such low inventory of industrial properties, coupled with the incredible demand for Big Box logistics and warehousing facilities, that developers wouldn’t have any challenges.

On paper, this equilibrium is exactly where any business would like to be – low supply, high demand, inelastic pricing, and a line of clients waiting around the block.

However, getting construction projects across the finish line has been anything but simple since the pandemic began. Supply chain disruptions and labour shortages have made materials tough to procure. Add to this the threat of inflation and we see rising costs across the board, as well as major delays to completion.

To make matters worse, industrial land itself is in short supply due to natural constraints, and delays to the zoning and permitting processes has constricted it further. The result? Even more aggressive competition for industrial land, skyrocketing pricing per acre, and pressure on municipalities to release and redesignate agricultural land (as might happen in part of York Region’s Greenbelt).

60 Birmingham Road Infill Development – Source: Quadreal.

Industrial Developments in 2022

Despite all of the challenges mentioned previously, the lead domino – and the true bottleneck – is a lack of land. 

Yes, costs are going up, and we are experiencing shortages and delays. However, these can easily be absorbed by e-commerce companies, large retailers and 3PLs who continue to make record profits. In fact, most would probably pay a premium just to have the space ready when they need it. “Securing space now at any cost” is more likely to become the mantra rather than complaints over pricing.

In 2022, things are just going to get tighter. Pricing is going up. We may see a number of holdouts – people who have owned parcels of land for decades or inherited it – finally see values get to such a high level that they will sell.

Similarly, we are likely to see bully offers on existing sites, such as brownfield redevelopment or infill sites, as these are a continuous source of opportunities, if and when they are identified.


In any event, if you are looking to break ground in 2022, you need to engage with municipalities as soon as possible, and if not, then it is probably already too late. However, it is never too late to begin planning and exploring. The GTA’s industrial market is truly one of the most dynamic in the world; and opportunities arise each and every day. Land will be the key to success, because once in hand, the rest of the industry will work to help convert it into much-needed industrial space.

On the flipside, if you are thinking of selling industrial-zoned or designated land, then you are in control of a much-needed and prized asset. Selling can generate a nice capital injection or set up your retirement. However, for those with the desire and appetite, partnering with the right developer can potentially result in equity and long-term cashflow, if executed properly.

With that said, if you would like a confidential consultation or a complimentary opinion of value of your industrial asset, please give us a call.

Until next week…

Goran Brelih and his team have been servicing Investors and Occupiers of Industrial properties in Toronto Central and Toronto North markets for the past 29 years.

Goran Brelih is a Senior Vice President for Cushman & Wakefield ULC in the Greater Toronto Area.

Over the past 29 years, he has been involved in the lease or sale of approximately 25.7 million square feet of industrial space, valued in excess of $1.6 billion dollars while averaging between 40 and 50 transactions per year and achieving the highest level of sales, from the President’s Round Table to Top Ten in GTA and the National Top Ten.

Industrial Real Estate Sales and Leasing, Investment Sales, Design-Build and Land Development

About Cushman & Wakefield ULC.
Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global real estate services firm that delivers exceptional value for real estate occupiers and owners. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest real estate services firms with approximately 53,000 employees in 400 offices and 60 countries.

In 2020, the firm had revenue of $7.8 billion across core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, valuation and other services. To learn more, visit

For more information on GTA Industrial Real Estate Market or to discuss how they can assist you with your real estate needs please contact Goran at 416-756-5456, email at, or visit

Connect with Me Here! – Goran Brelih’s Linkedin Profile:

Goran Brelih, SIOR

Senior Vice President, Broker
Cushman & Wakefield ULC, Brokerage.

Office: 416-756-5456
Mobile: 416-458-4264


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