Toronto's Biggest Tech Hub to Expand to Menkes Waterfront Centre


Canada’s biggest science and technology incubator is expanding to Toronto’s eastern waterfront as it joins a host of other companies jostling for extra space in the city to grow.

MaRS Discovery District, which houses some of the country’s biggest AI hubs and more than 50 startups, is in the final stages of securing a lease with Menkes Developments Ltd. for 24,000 square feet (2,230 square meters) at a new development by the Lake Ontario waterfront, according to a statement Tuesday.

Bloomberg first reported that MaRS was seeking more space for expansion in Toronto’s east end.

“Toronto is experiencing its lowest commercial vacancy rate ever (3 per cent), making the city the most sought after market in North America,” Yung Wu, chief executive officer of MaRS said in a statement Tuesday. “Our startups and partners need more space to scale, and this new development is the ideal location for that growth.”

The building, dubbed Waterfront Innovation Centre, is expected to be ready for move-in by 2021 and includes about 400,000 square feet of space to accommodate about 3,000 workers. London-based WPP Plc is the anchor tenant at the development and will move its portfolio of 19 operating companies in Toronto to the space. It will be a neighbor to Alphabet Inc.-backed Sidewalk Labs’ digital neighborhood.

MaRS’ expansion comes as the city is experiencing a tech boom with a flurry of capital, jobs and real estate investments. According to a report by CBRE Group Inc., Toronto created more jobs than the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Washington combined last year and beat New York in a ranking of “talent markets.”

Big tech giants are taking note of the growth here: Uber Technologies Inc. is spending more than $150 million in the city to support its driverless car research and is opening an engineering hub. Co-working companies like IWG Plc and WeWork Cos. are also rapidly expanding their office spaces in the city to cater to the growing demand for space from startups and enterprises alike.