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Mattamy Homes developing proposal for Sidewalk-led Quayside land

Toronto's eastern waterfront.
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Mattamy Homes, the leading real-estate developer, is quietly shopping around a development proposal for the 12 acres of Toronto’s waterfront known as the Quayside, with a meeting planned with the Ontario government this week, The Logic has learned.

This is Mattamy’s second proposal for the waterfront. The company was part of a consortium—which included OMERS and Manulife Financial—that responded to a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Waterfront Toronto’s Quayside development that Sidewalk Labs won.

Respondents were given only six weeks to complete the complex RFP, which Ontario’s auditor general said gave Sidewalk Labs an edge because it “received more information” than the other bidders. The new Mattamy Homes proposal outlines what the Quayside RFP could have looked like if the other bidders were given more time, according to a source familiar with the project. The source also claimed that Mattamy isn’t trying to overturn the Sidewalk Toronto plan.

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Talking Point

Sources told The Logic that the proposal isn’t meant to replace the existing project, but it could offer an alternative to politicians managing the controversial development.

Mattamy would not confirm the new proposal, saying in a statement, “Specifically on the Quayside project we learned a lot through the process and have continued to advance our thinking and explore new ideas to acquire a deeper understanding of how to provide the best urban living experience possible. This thinking is going to significantly contribute to new developments in the future.”

A meeting is expected to be held this week between Mattamy Homes and the provincial government, sources said. Both the province and the city of Toronto denied knowledge of the proposal.

Sources said the proposal is made up of two parts: a real-estate presentation for the 12 acres of the waterfront building off lessons from the Alphabet-led Sidewalk project, and a technology proposal that brings together Canadian smart-city technology partners, including Miovision, ThoughtWire and Sightline Innovations.

Miovision, ThoughtWire and Sightline Innovations did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Mattamy Homes is one of North America’s largest residential builders, and has spent much of its 40-year history building suburban developments. It recently moved into urban construction, with the December 2014 acquisition of Monarch Corporation, which focuses on high-rises. Mattamy is building a 53-storey condo tower on the lakefront in Etobicoke.

Multiple sources told The Logic that Peter Gilgan, Mattamy founder and CEO, was upset after a Bloomberg News report last fall where Sidewalk Labs said it had talked with Mattamy Homes about collaborating on tall timber for the Quayside project. Gilgan told people close to him there was no formal discussion.

Gilgan is a major Toronto philanthropist. In March 2012, Gilgan donated $40 million for a Sick Kids research centre; in March 2012, he donated $30 million to St. Michael’s Hospital for a new patient-care tower in September 2014.

A spokesperson for Waterfront Toronto said that the agency was unaware of any current proposal from Mattamy Homes.

“Sidewalk Labs was chosen by Waterfront Toronto after a rigorous, 159-day RFP process that closed in October 2017, over 15 months ago,” said the spokesperson. “On no occasion did any RFP proponent request an extension to the timeline.”

Waterfront Toronto launched its call for an innovation and development partner on the Quayside in March 2017. In October, Sidewalk Labs was announced as the chosen partner. Ontario’s auditor general then tabled a money-for-value audit on Waterfront Toronto on Dec. 5, 2018, and concluded that though Waterfront Toronto provided information to all bidders ahead of the RFP, Sidewalk Labs had “received more information” than the other parties.

On Dec. 6, 2018, the province fired all three provincial representatives on the agency’s board of directors. Ontario Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton said in a statement at the time that the report “made it clear that oversight needs strengthening.” Those three board members have yet to be replaced. Once they are, they will be responsible for approving the Master Innovation and Development Plan, which Sidewalk Labs is expected to complete for Waterfront Toronto and Alphabet’s boards’ approval in the spring.

Correction: A previous version of this story included reference to the company Thinkwire.