Developer Sam Mizrahi promised to build another great, Great Lakes skyline.
But his bid to orchestrate the first step-- a proposed 80-story, 1,000-foot tower in Toronto, some 500 miles to the east of Chicago’s legendary skyscrapers--has been stalled by charges he embezzled as much as $125 million from his lead investor.
The claims are part of an active lawsuit in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, which quietly proceeds as Mizrahi publicly pursues government approval of “The One,” his name for what would be the tallest building in not just Toronto, but all of Canada.
“We’re an international, deeply multicultural city, similar to London, New York City and Chicago,” Mizrahi said in a local real estate journal. “Toronto should have buildings that have the same kind of ambition and generate the same sense of awe and excitement as found in those cities.”
“The One” would rank as the sixth-tallest in Chicago, after Willis Tower (1,450 feet), Trump International Hotel & Tower (1,388), Aon Center (1,136), John Hancock Center (1,127) and Franklin Center (1,007).
If it happens.
“Luxurious properties and a private jet”
Plans for “The One” currently sit before the powerful Ontario Municipal Board, a provincial (state) agency with the power to approve its development, overruling objections from Toronto’s City Council.
Meanwhile, Mizrahi’s lawyers battle claims he is a fraud who stole millions from his partner, “to buy luxurious properties and a private jet,” according to public documents filed in the case.
The complaint says Mizrahi paid for his children’s private school, bought a lake cottage and made “gratuitous and unjustified payments” to his wife and mother out of company funds.
“Sam’s story-- that he alone now owns $2 billion of real estate without ever putting a penny of his own money into the business-- defies common sense,” it charges.
The suit also includes documents that show Mizrahi made large payments to the leader of at least one community group publicly supporting the project, raising questions about its objectivity.
The ABC Residents Association, or ABCRA, sent a letter to Toronto’s City Council last year expressing its critical support of the “The One,” calling it a “very consequential development whose impact on our city will be felt for a century or more.”
According to copies of emails provided by Mizrahi to the superior court, he appears to have paid ABCRA’s leader, John Caliendo, who signed the letter, on at least two occasions-- $73,450 in 2013 and $290,000 in 2015.
Second on the Great Lakes
Toronto’s skyline ranks second among Great Lakes cities behind Chicago and ahead of Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Buffalo.
Toronto has 13 buildings over 700 feet and 30 over 550 feet, compared to 19 and 73 in Chicago.
Toronto’s tallest include First Canadian Place (978 feet), by Trump International Hotel and Tower (908 feet), Scotia Plaza (902 feet), Aura (892 feet) and TD Canada Trust Tower (856 feet).
In Detroit, the tallest buildings are the Detroit Marriott and the Renaissance Center (727 feet) and One Detroit Center (619 feet).
In Cleveland, they are Key Tower (947 feet) and Terminal Tower (771 feet) and in Milwaukee, U.S. Bank Center (601 feet) and 100 E. Wisconsin (549 feet).