Location, location, location. There’s a reason this catchphrase is tossed around so much in the world of real estate. Location matters when it comes to buying or building – even on an airport campus.
When Winnipeg Airports Authority started construction on its new $27-million Ground Services Equipment Building in the summer of 2018, where it was being built was equally as important as why. Located adjacent to the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport terminal on the east side, the now completed facility places tenants closer to their work in providing below-the-wing services on passenger planes parked at the gates.
The GSE Building began welcoming tenants in late 2020 after overcoming a few obstacles in obtaining materials caused by the slowdown of global supply chains at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The facility allows its occupants to streamline how they deliver ground support services for commercial aircraft, such as performing maintenance on equipment used to load luggage or stocking planes with food and beverages for passengers to enjoy on their flight. Due to the desirable location, the demand for space inside the 96,175-square-foot, pre-engineered steel structure was strong with all but one of its eight bays spoken for. Tenants include Airport Terminal Services, Inland Group, Sky Café, Gate Gourmet and Air Canada, who occupies the most space having claimed approximately 48% of the leasable area.
“We want to provide the facilities and infrastructure to make it as efficient as possible for any of our stakeholders to operate at the airport,” said Ian Joyce, Manager of Real Estate and Facilities with Airport City Winnipeg, the WAA subsidiary in charge of managing the new property. “Any way we can add value to them, it helps optimize their operations. The building also gives us the ability to showcase the airport to prospective tenants to really grow this side of the business.”
The GSE Building is accomplishing this not only with its location but also the airport security features located inside the facility. WAA worked with its partners at the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to install a checkpoint within the building, placing tenants directly in the airport’s restricted area. This allows employees to move effortlessly to and from passenger planes as all their equipment remain within the security boundary.
“Without this security feature, you would lose all efficiencies in the building,” said Joyce. “The tenants that moved in, even though their operations are not fundamentally cargo based, would have to travel from our cargo precinct to their worksites. The location and features of the new facility will allow them to save time as well as costs associated to fuel and labour.”
To provide a further benefit, the entire interior of the GSE Building was designed with efficiency in mind. All the workspaces are connected by a massive hallway stretching two football fields in length. The corridor is also wider than most to accommodate forklifts or other machinery moving deliveries from the common use loading dock. Windows line the entire hallway to flood it with natural light, adding to the high-performance insulating exterior walls and roof to help reduce energy consumption.
Each of the eight tenant bays were constructed with 100 feet clear span depth and 30 feet clear height to allow for maximum flexibility. A mezzanine on the second floor of the facility provides room for offices or training areas overlooking the workspace below.
“Now that the aviation industry is looking towards recovery and focusing on a post-pandemic period, the tenants who are in this building will be in a strong position to take advantage of the expected uptick in traffic and really appreciate those savings associated with the facility’s location,” said Joyce.
Stay tuned for our next blog post to see how the GSE Building is helping to unlock the potential of the airport campus to support the cargo sector long term.