As the most populous region in Canada, the GTA can be overwhelming when examined as a whole. The surrounding suburbs, comprised of four regional municipalities encompassing 24 communities, represent a wide range of unique opportunities in corporate real estate. Over the next few weeks, we will be examining the GTA suburban landscape with market snapshots of significant areas within the GTA.
Today, we are exploring the corporate real estate landscape of Vaughan*, found in the York Region just north of the City of Toronto. With Caledon and Brampton to the west, King and Richmond Hill to the north, Markham and Richmond Hill to the east and Toronto to the south, Vaughan is an ideal location for corporate offices to accommodate a commuting workforce.
With a population of approximately 323,506, Vaughan has seen over a 20% growth in population and is the fifth-largest city in the Greater Toronto Area and the 17th largest city in the country. Vaughan represents 8.5% of the GTA North market with 30 office buildings totaling over 1.9 million square feet and more to come.
Vaughan’s Community Improvement Plan
The City of Vaughan has recently established a Community Improvement Plan with the goal to encourage an increase in the development of major office space in its metropolitan centre and surrounding areas (primarily at Weston Road and Highway 7). With a regional transit hub that includes a subway connecting to the Toronto Transit Commission with easy access to the Toronto Downtown Core, Vaughan’s CIP positions the city as a prime location for corporate real estate development.
The city’s goal is to achieve the goal of a redeveloped downtown by 2031, and to do so, the City of Vaughan is offering financial incentives for companies to build commercial office space in the above-listed areas. CIP program incentives are valid until 2020, or the total office projects have been issued for 139,350 square metres of office space (whichever occurs first).
Development Opportunity in Vaughan
Vaughan currently has the largest supply of vacant land in the GTA at 1,330 hectares, primarily split between the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (see above photo) and the Vaughan Enterprise Zone. Many of these sites are large and contiguous parcels suitable for head offices, national logistics and distribution centers, and manufacturing operations.
As of January 2016, development charges for office and industrial spaces are $25.75 per sq.ft, with the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre having a projected office space area of 1.5 million sq.ft. while the Enterprise Zone has approximately 48 million sq.ft. of projected industrial space.
Employment and Performance
As the largest employment centre in the York Region, Vaughan accounts for 38% of jobs, with over 10,000 businesses employing more than 200,000 people. The city empowers an entrepreneurial culture, with 81% of area businesses employing fewer than 20 people, while also being home to over 350 companies which employ more than 100 people.
Vaughan’s top industries include:
- Manufacturing – 23.3%
- Construction – 12.7%
- Retail Trade – 11.1%
- Wholesale Trade – 9.7%
- Transportation and Warehousing – 6%
- Accommodation and Food Services – 5.8%
Vaughan has also received national and international recognition as one of the fastest growing cities, one the best places to live and one of the best places to do business. These rankings have included:
#38 (out of 209 cities and towns) – Canada’s Best Places to Live, Moneysense, 2015
#9 – Canada’s Most Lucrative Markets for Business, PROFITguide.com, 2015
#6 – Canada’s Richest Cities, Moneysense – Canada’s Best Places to Live, 2015
#7 – Top Ontario Investment Towns, Real Estate Investment Network, 2014
#10 – Infrastructure for Small Cities – fDi Magazine, American Cities of the Future 2011/2012
#2 – Fastest population growth among cities over 100,000, Statistics Canada, 2011
*Statistics and information collected from the Corporation of the City of Vaughan, Economic Development.