Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify Doctoroff’s comments.
Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff is enamored with Toronto, where his company is partnering with the local government to build a high-tech waterfront neighborhood called Quayside. He’s so taken with Toronto that he thinks no other city will come close in Amazon’s HQ2 contest — that is, if the Seattle tech titan sees what he sees.
Doctoroff said so during a Town Hall in Toronto on Wednesday, chatting with Waterfront Toronto CEO Will Fleissig.
Here’s the exchange, which includes a couple of playful jabs at Amazon’s public Request for Proposals (RFP) process.
Doctoroff: “We really saw this as the perfect confluence of ambition, and experience, and location, and alignment. I gotta tell you something, that if Amazon sees what we do, it won’t even be a close call.”
Fleissig: “But unlike Amazon, they responded to our RFP.”
Doctoroff: “And we’re not asking for handouts either.”
It’s true, the City of Toronto put out a request for proposals to revitalize the waterfront neighborhood and Sidewalk Labs convinced the city government with a 196-page proposal. Amazon has a different goal for its project and a different approach. The Seattle-based tech titan accepted bids from 238 cities across North America, all eager to bring the massive corporate campus to their community.
The Town Hall event was Sidewalk Labs’ first opportunity to address questions and concerns of Toronto residents about the ambitious partnership with the city to create a model for future cities on 800 acres of undeveloped waterfront land.
Previously: Google reveals plan for ‘smart city’ makeover of Toronto waterfront — is there room left for Amazon’s second HQ?
Sidewalk Labs is an Alphabet venture, one of Google’s sister companies, focused on urban innovation. Before Doctoroff joined the startup, he served as deputy mayor for economic development of New York City and CEO of Bloomberg L.P.
Google plans to move its Canadian headquarters to the Toronto waterfront neighborhood as a way to bolster its ambitions to create a future cities pilot.
The Sidewalk Toronto Town Hall kicked off a year-long community outreach program designed to engender trust with Toronto’s residents. Sidewalk will need to earn community support for the ambitious project which will leverage technology to build new models of transportation, housing and retail construction, energy systems, and other aspects of urban life.
“We’re not a technology company,” Doctoroff said Wednesday, in an attempt to assuage fears that the neighborhood will just become a testing ground for Google engineers. “We’re a company that is really built to bridge the divide between the urbanist and technologist.”
This illustration shows Sidewalk Toronto’s vision for mixed use real estate development.When the year is done, Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto will debut its Master Innovation and Development Plan for review by each organization’s board of directors. If adopted, the plan will serve as a blueprint for the development of city-owned lands into Quayside.
“To have Toronto actually be the global hub of urban innovation we think is an incredible opportunity here,” Doctoroff said.