Sidewalk Labs has aborted plans to create a smart city on the Toronto waterfront due to “unprecedented economic uncertainty” which has made the 12-acre project “too difficult to make… financially viable”, according to CEO of the Alphabet subsidiary Dan Doctoroff.
The ambitious proposals were launched in 2017 and were closely watched by real estate professionals keen to see how the Google spin-out would handle data, climate change and other large urban design challenges.
Sidewalk Labs last year unveiled a 1,500-page Master Innovation + Development Plan for the C$3.9bn high-tech development, which was set to include thousands pof residential units and a 7m sq ft innovation district.
Doctoroff commented: “While we won’t be pursuing this particular project, the current health emergency makes us feel even more strongly about the importance of reimagining cities for the future. I believe that the ideas we have developed over the last two-and-a-half years will represent a meaningful contribution to the work of tackling big urban problems, particularly in the areas of affordability and sustainability. This is a vital societal endeavor, and Sidewalk Labs will continue our work to contribute to it.
On these fronts, we’ve already started innovative companies addressing urban mobility, next-generation infrastructure, and community-based healthcare, and invested in startups working on everything from robotic furniture to digital electricity. We continue to work internally on factory-made mass timber construction that can improve housing affordability and sustainability, a digital master-planning tool that can improve quality of life outcomes and project economics, and a new approach to all-electric neighborhoods.”
Sidewalk will continue to support its startups in the smart city arena.
The company’s Toronto plans faced increasing scrutiny over the past three years, including over its approach to data privacy.