NEWS

Woodbine Live! project dead for now

02/06/2013 07:17 EST | Updated 04/08/2013 05:12 EDT
It was touted by Mayor Rob Ford as a billion dollar development that would bring thousands of jobs to his Etobicoke neighbourhood, but now the Woodbine Live! project is dead after Woodbine Entertainment Group ended the deal with a U.S. developer.

Woobine Live! was billed as a 180-acre tourist attraction with shopping, hotels, restaurants as well as residential and office space located behind the existing racetrack at Highway 27 and Rexdale Boulevard.

The project was supported by $120 million in city-backed tax breaks and thousands of jobs were promised.

Jane Holmes speaks for Woodbine.

“Our formal arrangements with [the developer] have come to an end and Woodbine is free to choose a development partner of its choice,” he said.

Holmes said that after recent changes to how the horse racing industry is funded, the focus for Woodbine now is survival

“One of the key components we see as part of that is a permanent casino at Woodbine and that remains our first priority.”

Woodbine already has slot machines and Holmes says it’s currently in discussions with a number of casino operators.

Coun. Doug Ford hopes a new partner can be found.

“Things happen in the private sector, and we look forward to moving forward with a new partner," he said. "We've got to get cracking over there, if we've got to lay the bricks down ourselves we will.”

If substantial development isn't underway by next October, any developer of the site could lose millions in tax incentives.

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