Sidewalk Labs abandons Toronto smart city megaproject

12-acre Quayside project received approvals this year despite privacy concerns

National /
May.May 07, 2020 03:11 PM
Dan Doctoroff and a rendering of the project (Credit: Bloomberg New Energy Finance via Wikipedia)

Dan Doctoroff and a rendering of the project (Credit: Bloomberg New Energy Finance via Wikipedia)

Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs is abandoning a 12-acre smart city project on Toronto’s waterfront.

Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff said the decision was made in light of “unprecedented economic uncertainty” gripping the globe and the Toronto real estate market, The Information reported.

“It has become too difficult to make the 12-acre project financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the plan,” Doctoroff wrote in a blog post.

The development has been a source of controversy, and questions over its financial viability existed before the coronavirus pandemic effectively shut down major cities around the globe.

In 2017, Sidewalk Labs proposed an 800-acre development along Toronto’s waterfront. It was scaled back and later that year Toronto officials approved Sidewalk Labs’ bid, despite concerns from some locals over plans to incorporate a comprehensive surveillance and tracking system into the development.

The project, known as the Quayside, still needed some approvals and two years later Sidewalk Labs released the first detailed plans of the project. The plan also called for the creation of a 190-acre “River District,” which reportedly surprised Toronto officials.

Doctoroff — the former deputy mayor of New York who spearheaded the development of Hudson Yards — last year said that Sidewalk Labs may employ a similar financing model to that of the New York City megaproject.

Sidewalk Labs planned to use emerging construction methods to build much of the development. In his blog post, Doctoroff wrote that Sidewalk Labs would continue such research and software development. But with a global economic slowdown, it’s unclear if the company will survive. [The Information] — Dennis Lynch


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