Celestica Reaches Deal to Sell HQ Site to Development Consortium
Global electronics manufacturer Celestica has reached a deal to sell the 60-acre site of its corporate HQ and manufacturing operations at 844 Don Mills Rd (originally IBM’s Canadian manufacturing plant, opened in 1951), to a consortium of three developers—Diamond Corp, Lifetime Developments and Context Development—for $137M. The group is seeking to develop a mixed-use community on the site that would include office, retail and nearly 3,000 residential units in eight towers. Pending rezoning—current zoning doesn’t permit residential development—the deal is expected to close within the next two years.
The agreement would see Celestica lease its existing head office and manufacturing operations for a two-year term on a rent-free basis. A 30% interest in the property purchase will be owned by Context, a privately held company in which Gerald Schwartz, a controlling shareholder and director of Celestica, has a material interest. He also has a non-voting interest in Diamond Corp’s Whitecastle New Urban Fund 3, which will have a 25% stake in the deal. Local councillor John Parker and city staff do not support the proposal, citing concerns over potential loss of employment lands. It’s now before the OMB.
But the development group doesn't intend to build exactly what's proposed in the current application. Diamond Corp president Stephen Diamond, an ex-municipal planning lawyer whose firm is behind high-profile mixed-use projects like The Well (the Globe and Mail site redevelopment), Garrison Point and Five St. Joseph, tells us the consortium intends to work with the city and community to “modify components of the existing application to create a landmark master planned community consisting of employment uses and a mix of housing types and ancillary retail.”