A massive $3-billion development project in downtown Toronto hinges on the approval of a casino complex, to be built next to the Rogers Centre.

Oxford Properties Group announced the development project on Friday, pending the support of council for a casino to be built inside city limits.

The grand design would see a casino built on the south side of Front Street, bounded by Simcoe Street and Blue Jays Way, with a hotel and an adjacent retail complex running east from the CN Tower and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Part of the project would also see the convention centre updated and expanded, 4,000 new downtown parking stalls created and two new residential and office towers erected.

"If the decision is made to have a casino in the City of Toronto, Oxford believes it can provide the best location and the ideal solution for all stakeholders,” Blake Hutcheson, the company’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

“Oxford Place is a well-conceived private sector solution that requires no public infrastructure or other funding and drives significant community benefits for area residents, visitors, corporate tenants, taxpayers and the broader Toronto community.”

Oxford Properties Group says the $3-billion price tag would be paid entirely by the private sector and the project would be one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in North America.

The 11-acre development would include:

  • a 1.1-million-square-foot convention centre
  • 2.5 million square feet of office space
  • one million square feet of retail space
  • 600,000 square feet of residential property
  • a 1.7-million-square-foot hotel
  • a 450,000-square-foot casino.

The casino would be the centrepiece of the project but would comprise less than 10 per cent of the development, Oxford says. It would be built and operated by a casino operator chosen by the province.

A number of casino resort companies have previously expressed interest in running a Toronto casino, including MGM Resorts.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has urged the city to approve the development of a casino as part of a strategy to increase revenue. The OLG has said a downtown casino could be an “iconic” Ontario attraction.

The Canadian Gaming Association said Friday it welcomes the Oxford proposal.

“This clearly demonstrates how thousands of jobs and millions in revenue can come to the city should it agree to work together with the private sector to create real economic growth and add value to Toronto’s already dynamic centre,” said CGA’s CEO Bill Rutsey in a statement.

The province, meanwhile, says it will not force any community to host a casino, and is asking Toronto City Council to approve a motion stating the city would be a willing host.

Mayor Rob Ford said he is interested in reviewing any casino plan that would benefit the citizens of Toronto.

“I’ve always said that if it benefits the taxpayers, we can make money and it creates good, paying jobs, then I am in favour of it,” Ford told reporters on Friday. “Until then, I want to see all the proposals that come forward.”

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said on Friday that the issue should be left to a referendum.

With files from CTV Toronto’s Janice Golding and The Canadian Press