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Ivanhoe mulling development of prime Toronto site: sources

Ivanhoe mulling development of prime Toronto site: sources



A prime Toronto site, held quietly for years by owner Ivanhoe Cambridge Group as an empty parking lot, is now on the “front-burner” for development, multiple real-estate sources say.

In recent months, the real-estate arm of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has been discreetly promoting the site at 45 Bay St. to industry, fueling speculation that a mixed commercial project with more than one million square feet of office space could be in the works for 2017.

“They’re more active on the site than they’ve been in years,” one real-estate source said.

Located north of the Gardiner Expressway and just east of the Air Canada Centre, the estimated 100,000-square-foot site is significant because it’s one of Toronto’s last remaining large parcels of developable land downtown.

“That is a fabulous piece of dirt,” said John O’Bryan, vice-chairman of CBRE Ltd., Canada.

The site is especially important for Ivanhoe Cambridge, which despite having a growing portfolio in major cities like Paris and London, lacks a strong presence in Canada’s largest real-estate market.

“In Toronto, we have yet to really penetrate the market in a significant way,” acknowledged Bill Tresham, Ivanhoe Cambridge’s president of global investments, in a publication by the Canadian offices of global tax and advisory services firm Ernst & Young.

In the publication, Tresham said Ivanhoe Cambridge’s plan is to develop 45 Bay St. as a “one- to 2-million-square-foot office complex, perhaps with retail and multi-family components.”

Still, Ivanhoe Cambridge has yet to sign an agreement with an anchor tenant for the office development.

Ivanhoe Cambridge called 45 Bay St. one of many opportunities in the development pipeline.

“We are taking a hard look at it,” spokesperson Sébastien Théberge said. “That said, it is premature to confirm any investment at this time.”

In 2007, the Quebec pension fund manager acquired the site from Canada Post Corp. for $40.7 million, data from RealNet Canada Inc. show. Plans to develop the site were put on hold because of the subsequent global credit crunch. Rumours of the project being revived were circulating in Toronto in 2010.

alampert@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: @RealDealMtl