[URBAN NOTE] “Matador might never reopen as venue operators grow tired of endless fight for music”
The Toronto Star‘s Ben Rayner describes how city regulations and neighbourhood opposition may end plans to reopen the Matador Club, a renowned old Toronto music venue. I’m not surprised, sadly: College and Dovercourt is a perfect neighbourhood for condos.
The fabled Matador Club at the corner of College St. and Dovercourt Rd. has stood empty for 10 years now, seven of those in the hands of new owners who’ve long hoped to restore the 101-year-old space to its original glory as a revamped, remodelled live venue and community event space dubbed the Matador Ballroom.
Now, when Toronto’s music scene is agonizing over a spate of recent venue closures — last week, Bloor West café the Holy Oak announced it will be shuttering by March, joining a list that already includes the beloved Silver Dollar, the Hoxton, Hugh’s Room, Tattoo, the Hideout, and the Central — the Matador risks becoming the next casualty. Again.
When it finally got its liquor licence at this time last year despite staunch opposition from some very vocal and well-organized objectors in the surrounding neighbourhood who remember the room as the city’s most infamous after-hours boozecan, many observers assumed that it would reopen eventually. This is, after all, a historic venue in a self-professed “music city,” a space where the signatures of storied past performers such as Leonard Cohen and Stompin’ Tom Connors adorn a dressing-room wall that was almost bulldozed into a city parking lot.
Not so. The Matador remains ensnared in a nightmare of neighbourhood opposition and zoning and permit issues, and its would-be rescuer, Paul McCaughey — who purchased the building with his brother in 2010 — is growing weary.
“When you say the Matador will eventually get opened . . . there is no ‘eventually’ any longer,” he says, frankly. “The Matador will be the next headline if we do not get serious movement within the next two months.
“I will sell it to a condo developer and they will have a Shoppers Drug Mart in the bottom of it, OK?”