Function Junction continues to grow 

New building sets standard for industrial park

At one time Function Junction was the exclusive home of heavy industry in Whistler, a place frequented by loggers, contractors and tradesmen – and anyone who drove around the industrial park in anything other than a pickup was from out of town.

That stereotype has changed over the years as consumer retailers like Home Hardware and Up Country have moved into Function Junction and some of the old ones – like Valleau Logging – have moved away.

While the transformation of Function is continuing, the industrial park isn’t losing its industrial roots. A new building designed specifically for Whistler Transit to maintain the local bus fleet has recently been completed and the construction industry is still well represented.

Meanwhile the demand for retail, office and warehouse space in Function Junction has remained steady, with many businesses looking for larger facilities.

At the north end of Function Junction a new 143,000 square foot building opening next month will address some of those needs. It will also up the standard for building construction in Function.

Built by Don Wensley and partner Mark Pedlow, whose respective companies are Millar Creek Developments and Kenwood Construction, the two-storey building includes underground parking and air conditioning throughout. There are also elevators connecting the three levels and there is built in bicycle storage, for building employees who pedal to work.

The building’s external walls, like some others in Function Junction, was made of pre-cast concrete panels that were trucked to Whistler and then hoisted into place by a crane. The main shell of the building went up in a matter of weeks.

"There’s nothing else like it around," says Wensley. "I think the planning that went into this and the underground parking are the biggest advantages we have."

Whether it’s the features or just the opportunity to acquire more space, there was no shortage of businesses interested in moving into the building. Bartle & Gibson, Stewart Fire Prevention Inc., Gescan Express, Whistler Resort Management, Baby’s On the Go, ResortQuest, and Intrawest – which will occupy two levels and will have its own elevator – are all taking warehouse/storage space and some office space in the building. Budget Car and Truck Rental is also leasing some of the underground parking to store vehicles. That will still leave 80 underground stalls available.

All tenants are renting their spaces, with rates between $14 and $15 per square foot, plus triple net.

"Some people will be upset with me (for luring their tenants away),"Wensley says, "but this makes more village space available and more affordable too."

Two more buildings, of 30,000 square feet each, are also planned for the site. When Wensley and Pedlow decide to start work on those buildings will depend on the market and demand for space.

"It’s difficult to know what the demand will be over the next 10 years," Pedlow says. "The Olympics could be a factor."

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