Waterfront Toronto and Menkes launch Waterfront Innovation Centre

Waterfront Toronto and Menkes Developments Ltd. have announced the launch of an innovation centre which will bring more than 2,000 employees to Toronto’s waterfront. This cutting-edge workplace represents the next evolution in commercial office development and will reinvent how employees work together in Toronto’s rapidly evolving creative and technology sectors – including advanced visualization and interactive digital media, film and TV production.

After an open and competitive selection process, Waterfront Toronto chose Menkes to develop the Waterfront Innovation Centre, a 350,000-square-foot uniquely designed commercial space located next to Canada’s Sugar Beach in the new East Bayfront community. This important private-sector development will generate high-value employment on former industrial lands and support the emergence of East Bayfront as a prime waterfront live-work-play community within minutes of Union Station. The centre will also act as a catalyst for additional employment and economic development in the area.

At the heart of the Waterfront Innovation Centre is the waterfront-wide ultra-high-speed broadband fibre-optic network – a private-sector initiative that is delivering Internet connection speeds exponentially faster than the North American average. Future tenants of the Waterfront Innovation Centre will benefit from this network – one of Toronto’s fastest and most economical – to support their work in data-intensive industries.

The Waterfront Innovation Centre meets an emerging demand for purpose-built creative office space in Toronto. Designed by Sweeny &Co Architects Inc. – leaders in the architecture of progressive and sustainable workplaces – the building will create a work environment that allows tenants to interact and share resources in a series of interconnected private, semi-private and public spaces. State-of-the-art amenities for all tenants including a presentation theatre, sophisticated audio-visual and video-conferencing tools and workshop facilities with digital production facilities will enhance productivity, the ability to network and exchange ideas.

As technology and creative sectors continue to merge, the Innovation Centre – and the ultra-high-speed broadband infrastructure it’s built on – will allow many different types of industries to collaborate. For example:

*film and TV production and post-production companies will be able to speed up production schedules and lower production costs by sharing media instantly

*health-care professionals can securely stream live medical procedures in the highest possible resolution for education or research

*digital animators will work with companies designing user experiences to collaborate on next-generation interfaces and services

*companies focused on advanced analytics and cognitive computing will access, work on and share very large sets of data in real time

Additionally, because of its location within the East Bayfront community, potential employees in the Waterfront Innovation Centre will have the opportunity to live in the same community where they work, fulfilling a growing demand in Toronto for downtown live-work-play neighbourhoods.

Pre-leasing is now underway and construction is targeted to start in late 2016, once the appropriate commercial leasing threshold is met and Toronto City Council approvals are secured.

The development of the Waterfront Innovation Centre is the next step in the implementation of the East Bayfront Precinct Plan developed by Waterfront Toronto and the City and approved by City Council in 2006. The Precinct Plan outlines the development of the formerly industrial waterfront lands east of Lower Jarvis Street into a dynamic, mixed-use community for over 10,000 residents.

The new community is anchored by high-quality parks and public spaces (such as Canada’s Sugar Beach and Sherbourne Common) with modern infrastructure and high-value employment space for 8,000 jobs. Already, East Bayfront is home to two key employers – Corus Entertainment and George Brown College – and two private-sector mixed-use developments (Bayside and Parkside). Representing over $1.27 billion in investment, these successful waterfront developments have been catalytic in attracting additional private sector investment to the area.

The Precinct Plan and subsequent implementation plans for the area emphasized the importance of a commercial district in East Bayfront that would accommodate shifts in the economy and respond to the needs of knowledge-based companies and workers. The Innovation Centre meets the overall objectives set out in the East Bayfront Precinct Plan by generating high-value employment in this area.