Western Investor Features Drumheller

(as seen in the June edition of the Western Investor http://www.westerninvestor.com/regional/drumhellerjune09.pdf)

Retail

Drumheller has grown in prominence as a regional centre in the last several years, in part because of its larger stores drawing from a bigger geographical region.

Walmart opened its doors in 2006, and Canadian Tire and a large 24-hour IGA store were fixtures in the community for several years before that. Extra Foods has also located in Drumheller, and Shoppers Drug Mart is opening a 12,000-square-foot store this year. Drumheller's trading area extends east into Saskatchewan, and north, south and west for 50 kilometres or more.

The cost of leasing retail space in the valley community varies significantly, according to Bob Sheddy, broker/owner of Century 21 Power Realty.

Sheddy says that while downtown retail space can be leased for anywhere from $6.50 to $7.75 per square foot, space along the highways that snake through the valley is considerably higher priced, in the $18.50- to $28-per-square-foot range. The difference reflects the traffic volumes on highways 10, 9 and 56 that pass through Drumheller.

Sheddy says there's no vacancy in buildings right on the highways, but space is available for an 18,000 to 28,000-square foot retail store in the local Co-op Mall between Walmart and downtown.

All the new space that came onstream in 2008 is leased, Sheddy says, but there's room for development of new service/retail buildings on the highways in town.

While major names such as Boston Pizza and many of the fast food giants are already in Drum, one Canadian icon - Tim Hortons - has yet to locate in the Badlands capital. It's still being hotly pursued.

Industrial

In terms of industrial space for lease, supply has kept up with demand, but there's no glut of space.

"I don't expect any new [industrial] construction for 2009 or 2010," Sheddy said. "We have a healthy industrial market right now. There is a stirring of activity. Smaller companies are selling to larger corporate companies, moving into larger spaces, and some large private companies are reducing their lease space by 20 per cent to become more efficient."

One 2,400-square-foot bay is available for lease, Sheddy says, and the City of Drumheller is selling serviced industrial lots at Rosedale (about 10 kilometres southeast of Drumheller's centre) on Highway 10 for $75,000 per acre.

While Drumheller has long been a community served by a significant rail line, CN Rail wants to formally abandon its line through Drumheller that connects Calgary and Saskatoon. Telford says the community would like the line to stay for freight or perhaps be used for tourism trains, but that may be a losing battle.

Even without the rail line, businesses that set up in Drumheller that used the line aren't in a big hurry to relocate.

W. Ralston (Canada Inc.) has a plastics manufacturing business in Drumheller that employs roughly 80 people. It was using the rail line to bring in material but now trucks it in from Calgary. Still, it has no plans to leave the valley community.

After more than two decades in Drumheller, Mike Conley, W. Ralston's plant manager, sees Drumheller as a good place to do business.

"I see it as a promising community in the future. I don't plan on going anywhere and neither do we as a company. We're happy here. We think it was a good move," Conley said. Conley's upbeat sense on where Drumheller is going is shared by Ron Zuke, manager of the new 99.5 Drum FM station and its associated community Internet portal site.

"I think the company [Golden West Radio] saw the opportunity in Drumheller," Zuke says, noting the broadcaster has a history of expansion in larger Prairie towns and small cities

– Dave Husdal

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