The Toronto Star‘s Aaron Harris notes an apparent local furor in Bloordale over local strip joint House of Lancaster. The House of Lancaster has been present in this neighbourhood for 27 years, and its owner Spiro Koumoudouros has played a major role in promoting this now up-and-coming neighbourhood. It’s now unwelcome.
At one time, Bloordale was a hot spot for cheap drugs, street prostitution and arrests. Vestiges remain, but major changes have been underway for years on the stretch of Bloor St. W. between Dufferin St. and Lansdowne Ave.
The old Dale’s, a diner of ill repute, is now a trendy brunch spot. There’s no Starbucks yet, but among the psychic dens, cash-for-gold joints, laundromats and the token Coffee Time, you’ll find a gourmet sandwich counter, hip bars and a bakery that ominously proclaimed “the vegans are coming!” in its window before opening.
Property values have gone up 35 per cent, according to realtor Tasi Farquhar, with one detached house fetching $1,070,000 recently. Where it used to be littered with needles, a playground was installed at the Susan Tibaldi Parkette to accommodate families.
The old butts up against the new in Bloordale. And the long-standing House of Lancaster strip club is right in the middle.
Owner Spiro Koumoudouros has been a member of the BIA for 27 years and at the helm for as long as anyone can remember. He takes credit for cleaning up Bloordale and making it more inviting for newcomers. But now some say it’s time for him to go. Koumoudouros says without him, the BIA would collapse.
“(Spiro) was one of the only people who would chair the BIA so we have to give him kudos for that. But it doesn’t mean he has to continue,” said Liza Lukashevsky, who formally joined the BIA this year but has owned the Nuthouse health food store since 2010.
“This seems like a natural time for change to happen to reflect what’s happening already organically in the neighbourhood,” she said.
The Toronto Star‘s Jacques Gallant reported last month about how a piece of north Toronto real estate now features in a lawsuit regarding Iranian sponsorship of terrorism. As described at the time by MacLean’s, this location back in 2010 was briefly the host of a controversial and apparently Iranian-sponsored Centre for Iranian Studies, so there clearly is some kind of Iranian state connection.
It’s rather hard to believe that the empty red-brick backsplit house on Sheppard Ave. W. with the overgrown grass and damaged roof finds itself at the centre of an international showdown.
And yet, a Toronto judge ruled earlier this year that the house, along with a commercial building in Ottawa, is “beneficially owned” by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and can be seized by victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism.
The ruling, which also named as defendants the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, is just one of several cases slowly moving through Canadian and American courts, demanding damages for bombings and kidnappings dating back more than 20 years throughout the Middle East that have been linked to Iran.
Although it did not participate in any of the proceedings leading up to the March 17 ruling by Superior Court Justice David M. Brown, Iran is now fighting back and has retained Toronto lawyer Colin Stevenson.
The Iranian government maintains that the house at 290 Sheppard Ave. W. in north Toronto and the building at 2 Robinson Ave. in Ottawa are legally owned by active corporations, and that there is no evidence they were held in trust for Iran, Stevenson told the Star. He said Iran will argue state immunity. The next court dates are scheduled for December.