[URBAN NOTE] “Downtown Toronto continues to shed its grittiness”
The Globe and Mail‘s Marcus Gee wrote last Wednesday about how the transformation of downtown Toronto is spreading even to areas like Jarvis and Dundas.
Social media lit up this week, when a story went around that the so-called “Hooker Harvey’s” at Jarvis and Gerrard Streets in east-side downtown Toronto was going to close, the victim of a relentless building boom.
“Nooooo! I love Hooker Harvey’s. Is nothing sacred in this city?” one post said. Another marked the loss of this “cultural touchstone” and its “seedy presence.” Yet another remembered the time a sex worker got her spiky heel caught in a grate near the entrance and let out a memorable volley of curses.
Never fear, Hooker Harvey’s fans. City planning officials say the famous burger joint at 278 Jarvis St. is not, at present, part of the development proposal that came in on Dec. 29 for the block on the north side of Gerrard between Jarvis and Mutual Streets. The proposal envisions a mixed development, including one 25-storey tower, one 10-storey building and 306 residential units, with heritage buildings integrated into the project. Artist’s renderings show the new buildings encircling the squat Harvey’s on the northwest corner of Gerrard and Jarvis. Its manager said he did not know of any plans to close it.
In a sense, though, Hooker Harvey’s is already gone. The days when Jarvis Street was a busy “stroll” where cars would pull up to the curb at night to negotiate terms with skimpily dressed women are mostly past. In those days, the Harvey’s was the centre of a lurid late-night parade. All sorts of sights could be absorbed from its big plate-glass windows. Asked what he has seen over the years, the manager answers: “Everything.”
Today, like so many once-sketchy corners of old Toronto, the district around Harvey’s is changing fast. New residents who embrace city living are moving in, part of a continentwide trend of reviving big-city downtowns. Two great big holes in the ground just to the south of Harvey’s, at Dundas and Jarvis, signal that new towers are about to rise there as Toronto’s condo craze continues.