It’s getting cold out, but the commercial real estate market in Kitchener Waterloo is still HOT.
The last couple of years have seen some huge brands set up shop in Waterloo Region, with others announcing plans to open in 2012 and 2013.
Brands such as Google, Apple, Coach and Marshall’s have come into Kitchener Waterloo – Google expanded from a small Waterloo office to a large presence at The Tannery in Kitchener – and soon enough we will see a few Target stores in the Region. Plus the rumours (so far not confirmed) that Facebook is coming to Kitchener, and that Whole Foods has a site picked out too.
Why are companies coming to Kitchener Waterloo?
The last few years have been eventful in the Kitchener Waterloo Office Real Estate market.
The Tannery was converted to office space, and today houses Google, Desire2Learn, Communitech, RIM and start up companies that are among the most successful in the country. It is across the street from a vibrant residential loft building, and a Medical School.
The Breithaupt Block is currently being converted, bringing an additional 175,000 square feet of Class A Brick & Beam space to the Innovation District in Kitchener.
In the last two years, RIM has built and occupied hundreds of thousands of square feet of Class A office space in North Waterloo, as well as additional space throughout Waterloo Region.
DUNDEE REIT acquired the REALEX portfolio (formerly the locally built CORA portfolio) as well as another building downtown on King Street.
The reason that international tech leaders like Google are setting up large presences in Kitchener Waterloo is that Waterloo Region contains lots of smart, highly skilled workers. University of Waterloo, Conestoga College and Wilfrid Laurier University produce very smart graduates, and the region has a culture of technological entrepreneurship that encourages people to think differently and innovate.
Companies want a bit of that magic.
Retail tenants want to come to Waterloo Region to sell goods to us – residents on the region have a higher than average employment rate, and a lower cost of living, leaving more money left over to spend shopping and eating out at restaurants.
We have seen major national tenants set up retail stores in town – most recently the Apple Store at Conestoga Mall, soon to be joined by Target – and Lululemon has a temporary store at the Uptown Waterloo Shops and is rumoured to be evaluating a permanent presence in Waterloo Region.
As I mentioned above, in addition to the restaurants that have announced new stores in the area, there are several prominent chains in the site selection process, looking at sites throughout Kitchener Waterloo and Cambridge.