You may be a small business owner looking to expand outside of your home garage into your first commercial space. You may manage a midsize enterprise and require a modern and more efficient warehouse. Perhaps you operate a large distribution company and are looking to expand into the East Coast. Where do you start?

First, you must consider your requirements, those that are a dealbreaker and those which you can compromise. What is your budget? What are your locational requirements? Do you require exposure or proximity to transportation by air, rail or highway? In terms of the physical property, do you require loading and if so, grade, dock or a combination of both? Are there large trucks entering the property which require turning radius? What are your ceiling clear height requirements? What are your minimum electrical requirements?

In terms of budget, here is what you need to know about industrial rental rates in Nova Scotia, particularly in the Halifax Regional Municipality and surrounding areas. Average net rental rates per square foot are now into the double digits, despite rising interest rates. The limited supply coupled with pent up demand is creating an environment where industrial landlords can effectively set the rates.

If you’re looking to buy, you will be in the same boat. Both land and building values are at a historic high for Nova Scotia. Sellers are having a hard time finding a new location, exasperating the supply issue. Buyers are driving up the purchase price in desperation to acquire industrial property in the Province, once again, despite rising interest rates. While sellers are incentivized to sell given the increase in their equity, unless they are retiring or vacating the market, they may not get the benefit, as they have limited options and may end up overpaying as well.

The Halifax Regional Municipality is under construction with the expansion of the Burnside Industrial Park, adding 120 net acres of industrial land. However, with increased demand from current market players, to new demand from national and international players, it is anticipated that there will be competition for these new lots. Perhaps you are lucky enough to acquire an unimproved industrial lot. The next challenge is securing a developer or general contractor to construct the building and complete the site work. Given the amount of outstanding work from recent hurricanes and wildfires, in an already stretched out industry, lining someone up to do the work is not easy. In addition to the high demand for contractors, there is also high demand for building materials, which add additional time and budgetary constraints to the development.

Do not despair, as there are other options available if you are willing to go beyond the larger industrial parks in the Province. The Elmsdale Business Park is approximately 26 minutes away from the Burnside Industrial Park and is located along the Trans Canada Highway. It is also in close proximity to the Province’s largest airport. Asking prices are much lower to entice new development. Services include municipal water and wastewater and 3 phase power. A further 15 minutes from Elmsdale you will come to the Milford Industrial Park, also located along the Trans Canada Highway. Invest Nova Scotia manages over 14,500 acres of industrial land around the Province, with access to their own managed ports, to encourage growth in secondary markets. With a shift in society’s typical urban focus after the pandemic, many people are looking for opportunities outside of the busy city landscape. Perhaps this opens up the possibility for rural workers and industrial users alike to look beyond the Province’s Capital.