The Real Deal New York

Alphabet could use Hudson Yards as template to finance Toronto megaproject

The company is looking at special-purpose bonds as part of its plan
March 14, 2019 10:05AM

Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff with a rendering of Alphabet’s project in Toronto (top) and Hudson Yards (bottom). (Credit: Sidewalk Labs and Twitter)

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, may look to Hudson Yards as a model for how to finance an 800-acre urban hub along a downtrodden part of Toronto’s waterfront.

Sidewalk Labs, a Google sister company, is exploring options that could include selling bonds backed by tax revenue and development charges from the commercial site, Bloomberg reported. The model could be similar to part of the $25 billion plan for Hudson Yards: Investors funded about $3 billion worth of special-purpose Hudson Yards Infrastructure Corp. bonds that went to the development of the 7 subway line and other infrastructure.

“We devised this approach, which said, we’ll go to bondholders and get them to put up the money on the hope that there would be development in the area,” CEO Dan Doctoroff told Bloomberg. “We will devote all of those incremental tax revenues and some other related revenue streams to the payment of debt service on the bond.”

Doctoroff, who spearheaded Hudson Yards’ development as a deputy mayor, says the area has the same need for a light-rail link to the Toronto development. The bonds would be issued by a special purpose corporation, he said.

The company is controversially also weighing a proposal to take a cut of property taxes, development charges and increased land values in the project to help cover infrastructure costs that could total $4.5 billion over the next 30 years.

Sidewalk Labs plans to submit an official proposal in the next three months or so, the report said. It includes first revitalizing a 12-acre neighborhood, called Quayside, which would include a new Google campus.

The firm has held some “very preliminary” conversations on financing with several pension funds across Canada and is working with a number of investment banks. [Bloomberg] — Meenal Vamburkar