Commercial real estate giant Cadillac Fairview and the Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts announced a joint venture to build a casino resort in the GTA.

The companies plan on bidding for "developing and operating a destination-style, integrated resort complex," announced Cadillac Fairview on Thursday.

"Cadillac Fairview recognizes the enormous benefits that can accrue to the city of Toronto from an integrated resort," said John Sullivan, president and CEO of Cadillac Fairview.

"We look forward to working with city officials and community stakeholders in support of Council's decision on the optimal site for an integrated resort, and to maximize its benefits to the city through a fair and competitive process."

The proposed project promises a resort that includes such attractions as a permanent Cirque de Soleil presence and an arrangement with Toronto restaurateur Mark McEwan to create "new dining concepts."

"From the start MGM sought to partner with a Canadian company that shares our values of sustainable design, service excellence and commitment to city-building," said MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren.

Mayor Ford has been a big proponent of the concept of building a casino in Toronto, a development he says will create jobs and inject revenue into the city’s budget.

On Wednesday, three former city mayors, David Crombie, John Sewell and Art Eggleton sent an open letter to Ford and councillors stating urging them to reconsider the idea.

They said the social costs and pressure on the city infrastructure outweigh the benefits of a casino and told the mayor to "beware of the sales pitch."

"It's in areas where they're down and out where they might make an early contribution, but for cities like Toronto, which has a very healthy downtown, what they're going to be doing is taking away, not putting in," Crombie said to CBC's Matt Galloway Thursday morning on Metro Morning.

"We felt more balance was needed to public discussion and we wanted people to take figures coming out of aggrandizing studies and remind people to keep their eyes peeled for any part of the presentations and figures that were not transparent."

The final decision by city council on the proposed gambling resort is set for April.

Cadillac Fairview owns a number of major Canadian shopping centres including the Toronto's Eaton Centre, Vancouver's Pacific Centre and Calgary's Chinook Centre. The company is owned by the Ontario Teacher's Pension Plan.

With files from CBC's Trevor Dunn