A look at Sidewalk Labs' site plans for its Toronto project
- Quayside, the smart cities development in Toronto from Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, will be 40% below market rate housing, with half designated affordable housing and half as middle-income, according to new site plans. The residential space in the site's mixed-use buildings will accommodate approximately 5,000 people.
- The 12-acre development is being pitched as a "people-first public realm," designed to promote walking, biking and transit over driving. That will include covered walkways along major streets, pedestrian bridges and flexible streets that can be adapted to accommodate more active transportation.
- According to Sidewalk Labs’ plans, Quayside will be built with mass timber, a more sustainable material that will cut construction costs by 15%. Through energy efficiency and other sustainability efforts, developers plan for a 75%-85% reduction in greenhouse gases compared to a standard development.
Quayside is meant to be a real-life test for smart cities projects, with amenities like adaptable infrastructure to underground delivery systems. The latest plans reinforce how much that design revolves around active transportation. There will be two main thoroughfares running parallel to the waterfront, as well as a series of bridges for pedestrians, a bike trail and a new light rail transit line through the development. The waterfront will also incorporate green space open to all members of the public.
In a bid for more density, the project is designed for mixed-use buildings of up to 30 stories (taller buildings will be kept further from the waterfront). More than half of the units will be purpose-built rental, and the eye towards below-market and affordable housing is a bid to allow more people to access the development. In an interview with State Scoop, Sidewalk Labs' Associate Director of Mobility Andrew Winters said the housing plan is meant to hit the "missing middle" between affordable and high-end development, which both the public and the city is looking for.
According to Sidewalk Labs, Quayside will create at least 9,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction, with 3,900 permanent jobs.
The project has been dogged by privacy and security concerns because of the cast amount of data that could be collected. The concerns led to scrutiny from the government and the resignation of a member of an advisory panel, among other consultants. To address the complaints, Sidewalk Labs says Quayside will incorporate an “independent, civic data trust” run by a third party that would store any user data, incorporating plans it first proposed in October.
The latest plans will be presented to the public at a roundtable on Saturday, Dec. 8. Public comments will be incorporated into a Master Innovation and Development Plan set to be released in 2019.
Follow Jason Plautz on Twitter