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New ‘Innovation Centre’ Announced For Toronto’s Waterfront

Waterfront Toronto has announced a proposed “innovation centre,” a nine-storey building being touted as the next stage of redevelopment of the eastern harbour. Toronto-based Menkes Developments Ltd. would build and own the project. Under the proposed deal, it would buy the city-owned site near Sugar Beach for an undisclosed amount after it finds a lead tenant and begins construction, which is expected to happen at the end of next year. An ultra-high-speed fibre-optic network will be a driving factor in bringing nearly 2,000 high-tech jobs to the new 350,000-sqft building.

Menkes Development will begin construction in 2016 with new tenants not moving in for roughly 2.5 years, Menkes CEO Peter Menkes said Friday. He said Waterfront Toronto and his company will be signing up tenants over the next 18 months.

The centre’s goal is to house “advanced visualization, and interactive digital media, film and TV production,” according to a press release from Waterfront Toronto. Retail shops will occupy the ground floor of the building on Queens Quay, with restaurant and conference space to occupy the western part of the building. The office space will take up the eastern section of the building. The network, operated by Toronto-based Beanfield Metroconnect, provides internet connections starting at 500 megabits per second for residential consumers and up to 10 gigabits per second for businesses.

The revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront has not been without controversy. Former Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong criticized the price of rocks and umbrellas installed on Sugar Beach, and the cost of redeveloping a 15 kilometre stretch of Queens Quay jumped from $35.6 million to $93.2 million last year.

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