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Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs abandons ‘city of the future’ project in Toronto

Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai speaks at a news conference in 2017.
(Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)

Alphabet Inc.’s plan to create a “city of the future” on Toronto’s waterfront is no longer, as the coronavirus continues to roil the global economy.

Sidewalk Labs LLC, Alphabet’s urban innovation unit and sister to Google, is shelving its plan to build an urban digital neighborhood due to unprecedented economic uncertainty globally and in the Toronto real estate market, Chief Executive Dan Doctoroff said in a blog post Thursday.

“It has become too difficult to make the 12-acre project financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the plan,” Doctoroff wrote. “It no longer made sense to proceed with the Quayside project.”

New York-based Sidewalk spent more than two years planning to transform the plot along Lake Ontario into a showcase for digital urban living, complete with heated sidewalks, underground garbage collection and tall timber buildings. The plan included investing more than $50 million dollars and opening a 30-person office in Toronto.

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During that period, the project was embroiled in controversy around privacy concerns, how much control a tech giant should have over public lands and who should profit from the intellectual property it generated.

Doctoroff was chief executive of Bloomberg LP and deputy mayor of New York City under Michael Bloomberg.


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