Shopify scraps plans to move into 243,000-square-foot Toronto office complex


Shopify has cancelled plans to move some of its staff into a quarter of a million square feet of office space in a high-profile development in downtown Toronto.

In 2018, the Ottawa-based tech giant first announced its plans to be an anchor tenant in The Well, a massive mixed-use complex with more than one million square feet of office space at Wellington Street West and Spadina Avenue, on the west side of the city’s downtown core.

The company was going to make the venue its home base in the city, with a 15-year lease for the use of at least 254,000 square feet of space, and options for more.

But the company’s plans have changed significantly since then, with the pandemic prompting the company to announce in 2020 that workers would have the option to work from anywhere, forever.

This week, Shopify confirmed it has cancelled plans to use the space, given its focus on remote work, but will spruce up another office complex it has in the city for activities that require in-person collaboration.

“We have a bold vision for the future of work at Shopify, and are no longer a workforce that centres around a physical workplace for day-to-day work,” spokesperson Alex Lyons told CBC News.

“Shopify continues to value highly intentional, in-person gatherings, and will continue to do so at our primary Toronto space located at King Portland Centre, with plans to further develop and expand into one central space to accommodate our needs.”

RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, one of The Well’s owners, says it was looking forward to welcoming Shopify to the property, but understands the company’s needs have changed.

While Shopify may be cancelling plans to move any of its people into the space, RioCan’s statement makes it clear the company is still on the hook for the financial commitment.

“While we were looking forward to welcoming Shopify at the Well, their recent decision will not have a financial impact on the project, as Shopify is bound by the terms of their lease agreement until March 2037,” RioCan told CBC News in a statement.

The Well’s other owner, Allied Properties Real Estate Investment Trust, says Shopify took legal occupancy at The Well and is paying full rent as it comes due, but says it cannot comment on anything “going on behind the scenes.”

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