GALA Developments has closed on the acquisition of a strategically located 101-acre site in Bradford West Gwillimbury, north of Toronto, where it plans to develop approximately 1.4 million square feet of industrial space.
The property at 3664 8th Line was acquired for $37 million in mid-October from a private investor based in Quebec, GALA vice-president of real estate development Vito Valela told RENX. The developer had it under due diligence for four months before closing on the deal.
The site in growing Bradford West Gwillimbury, where GALA also has land as part of the multi-developer Bond Head low-rise housing community, will provide easy access to the Bradford Bypass via a ramp from Highway 400. That four-lane freeway, which is in the very early stages of construction, will connect Highway 400 to Highway 404.
“We knew it was coming and we were strategic in our selection,” said Valela of the bypass. “The opportunity arose and we seized it.”
The 16.2-kilometre Bradford Bypass has drawn criticism from environmental groups and some residents living near the corridor, raising concerns about potential damage to protected areas of the Greenbelt. However, the Ontario government wants to have it completed by the end of the decade.
GALA’s site will have coveted visibility from Hwy. 400 as well as frontage on 8th Line and 5th Side Road.
Site offers flexibility
“That gives us flexibility in our planning and phasing,” said Valela. “You can work the development as the need arises as we grow our tenant base.”
GALA is targeting large logistics users, warehousing providers and last-mile delivery companies as tenants for its business park. It will see what the market demands and will be able to deliver spaces ranging from 50,000 to 500,000 square feet.
GALA is designing its block and lot plan and hopes to have a pre-application consultation with municipal planning officials in December to receive feedback.
The goal is to have all approvals in place in the first quarter of 2024, have site servicing begin in the second quarter, and to start construction of the first building in the fourth quarter.
GALA ready to talk to potential tenants
GALA is already welcoming inquiries from members of the brokerage community on behalf of their clients and prospects regarding leasing.
“We’ve got patience to allow the market to take its course, but we believe that the long-term prospects are very good and we’re in it for the long haul,” said Valela.
With the downturn in the economy leading some property owners to potentially pull back on development plans, Valela believes new acquisition opportunities may arise. While GALA will keep its options open, it will take a cautious approach since it already has several properties in its industrial and residential development pipelines in and around the Greater Toronto Area.
“We have some industrial assets where we are fortunate to have excess land,” GALA president John Gagliano told RENX. “With the rise in the demand and need for warehousing, we are expanding some of our warehousing footprints on our existing boundary lines.”
GALA and TGA Group plan to start construction on the expansion of a 28,000-square-foot industrial building at 20 Royal Gate Blvd. in Vaughan next summer.
Other planned industrial expansions are: 250,000 square feet at 25 Clayson Rd. in Toronto; 70,000 square feet at 2645 Skymark Dr. in Mississauga; and 15,000 square feet at 18 Ingram Dr. in Toronto.
GALA’s multifamily developments
Gala also has several multiresidential projects in the works.
Danny Danforth — a 10-storey, 140-unit condominium with 4,400 square feet of street-level retail space at 2359 Danforth Ave., just east of Woodbine Avenue, in Toronto — will begin occupancy in late March or early April.
Other projects are in the approvals process, including a high-rise condo at 438 Avenue Rd. in Toronto and a mixed-use community with three condo towers at 189 Dundas St. W. in Mississauga. There are a number of longer term residential sites being assembled or that are already part of GALA’s portfolio and in the planning stages.
“We want to bring on more residential when the time is right,” said Valela.
GALA and TGA Group
North York, Ont.-headquartered GALA was launched by the Gagliano family-owned and operated TGA Group last year to oversee the development of the property portfolio the company has accumulated over the years. TGA provides leasing and construction services and owns, operates and manages approximately 1.2 million square feet of industrial space.
TGA’s Access Restoration Services arm is a disaster mitigation and property restoration company.
“We came from a very simple and humble beginning,” said Gagliano of the company created by his father Anthony in 1959. “Our approach to the market is to create great relationships and value, and that’s obviously been a family-driven component for many, many years.”
GALA has grown from a five-person operation to 10 since inception. Valela expects that number to double again a year from now as the company continues to grow and more developments are advanced.
“TGA and the Gagliano family have patient resources to see us through good times and more challenging times,” said Valela. “That makes it a little bit easier.”