“We can confirm that after forming a joint venture almost 10 years ago, Cadillac Fairview and our partner, the Sifton Family, have made a joint decision and are in the process of putting our positions in the Buttonville airport site for sale,” said a statement from Cadillac Fairview manager of external communications and corporate communications Anna Ng in response to a query from RENX.
“At Cadillac Fairview, we are constantly looking at ways to evolve our portfolio, and after a strategic review of our development program we have decided to focus our efforts on our downtown Toronto land bank, which includes the recent purchase of the East Harbour lands, as well as the densification of our existing retail portfolio.”
Cadillac Fairview declined to comment further when asked for additional information about the proposed sale.
The property is located in Markham, about 30 kilometres north of downtown Toronto. It is bounded by 16th Avenue, Highway 404, Renfrew Drive and Valleywood Drive.
Buttonville airport development plan
The joint venture between Cadillac Fairview and Armadale was formed in October 2010, with the intention of redeveloping the Buttonville site.
The property was first used as a grass airstrip in 1953 and became an official airport 10 years later.
It’s operated by the Sifton family-owned Torontair Ltd. and offers an array of general aviation services, including: flight training; aircraft maintenance and avionics service; local and visiting pilot services; based and visiting aircraft services; and hangar and office space for rent.
Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport is consistently ranked among the 10 most active airports in Canada in terms of aircraft movements, according to its website.
Cadillac Fairview and Armadale submitted a 2011 application for land-use changes to the site to permit a multi-billion-dollar, multi-year development of up to 10 million square feet.
The mixed-use proposal included office, retail, service, commercial, restaurant, hotel, entertainment and park space, as well as a residential component.
At least a dozen mid- and high-rise towers were included in the proposal, with heights reaching up to 60 storeys. A 13-acre, man-made lake would be surrounded by a commercial and office district.
In addition to creating thousands of jobs, the plan included 3.6 million square feet of density for 6,000 to 7,000 residents.
Negotiations with the Ontario Municipal Board — which is now the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal — regarding the site were ongoing, as the large project involves multiple buildings, road networks, site servicing and different stakeholders.
Due to significant delays in reaching an appropriate rezoning, Cadillac Fairview, Armadale and Torontair announced in April 2018 they were extending the timeline for airport operations to continue until at least the spring of 2023.
Cadillac Fairview and Armadale
Cadillac Fairview is one of the largest owners, operators and developers of office, retail and mixed-use properties in North America.
Its portfolio is owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, a diversified global investor that administers the pensions of more than 327,000 active and retired school teachers.
Cadillac Fairview’s Canadian portfolio is valued at around $32 billion.
It includes more than 37 million square feet of leasable space at 70 properties, including Toronto-Dominion Centre, CF Toronto Eaton Centre, CF Pacific Centre, CF Chinook Centre, Tour Deloitte and CF Carrefour Laval.
The real estate portfolio also includes investments in retail, mixed-use and industrial real estate in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.
Armadale is a Markham-based Sifton family holding company of assets in various industries. It identifies opportunities to develop properties and participates operationally and financially either as consultants, owners or in joint ventures.