Posts Tagged ‘bloor street west’
[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto city staff want to see Victoria University pay property tax on Yorkville land”
Mike Smee of CBC News reports on the latest regarding Victoria University’s holding of extensive amounts of Bloor Street West retail property while paying few taxes.
The head of Victoria University tried to convince Toronto councillors the school can come to a deal with the city — without involving the province — about the controversial tax-free status of the land the institution owns in an upscale Yorkville neighbourhood.
William Robins appeared before the government management committee Tuesday to answer questions as city staff want the school to pay taxes on a parcel of land it owns on the so-called mink mile; the school’s tenants include names like Prada, Cartier, and Michael Kors.
“You can understand, I’m sure, that on the face of it, it looks as if some of the city’s most successful and lucrative retailers are potentially getting a break while we are struggling with our revenues at the city,” Coun. Janet Davis said.
While the school — better known as the University of Toronto’s Victoria College — does not pay property taxes on the land, it’s unclear whether it does on the buildings themselves.
“The lease arrangements are complicated,” Robins told the government management committee. “But this is very much part of the ongoing negotiations with city staff, I can assure you that.”
David Rider writes at the Toronto Star about how Victoria University, a component of the University of Toronto, owns a Bloor Street West address but pays no property tax owing to mid-20th century legislation. This is news to a lot of people.
The owner of top-dollar land under a swanky Yorkville mall pays zero property taxes to the city — a multimillion-dollar anomaly that infuriated councillors fighting over “scraps” to fund vital services.
Victoria University, a federated college of the University of Toronto, owns 131 Bloor St. W. in the heart of the posh “Mink Mile” shopping strip. Revenue Properties leases the land and owns The Colonnade — 71,156 square feet of apartments plus luxury shops, including Cartier, Chanel and Escada — atop it.
The 1951 Victoria University Act exempts all the college’s land but not commercial buildings. The U of T enjoys the same exemption but voluntarily pays the city about $240,000 a year in lieu of taxes for a few small commercial properties.
City staff estimate the Victoria exemption cost taxpayers $12.2 million between 2009 and 2015.
“This (tax-exempt) designation was meant for property used for education — not to have a profit centre,” said Kristyn Wong-Tam, the local councillor.
Torontoist’s Nikhil Sharma reports on how locals in Bloordale have been aiming to have more say in what a new community hub, planned for the southwest corner of Bloor and Dufferin, will be like.
Andrea Nann is a homeowner in Toronto’s Bloordale neighbourhood and the parent of a Grade 12 student at Bloor Collegiate Institute. There’s a lot at stake in planning changes to her neighbourhood. Nann is a member of the Building a Better Bloordale Community Group, a collective of people concerned with the sale and redevelopment of Toronto District School Board property at the southwest corner of Bloor Street West and Dufferin Street.
A 30,000-square-foot community hub with a licensed child-care centre, as well as a new secondary school, is slated for the site. Ontario’s provincial government has also committed $20 million to the project. Last month, the City, Province, and the TDSB announced that Capital Developments purchased for $121.5 million the 7.3-acre site that was declared surplus by the TDSB in 2013.
Several schools in addition to Bloor CI used to operate on the site, but Kent Senior Public School closed in 2012 after the Board of Trustees voted in June 2010 to shut it down due to decreasing enrolment in the area. Brockton High School has been closed since 1995, but the building has been leased by many organizations over the years, including the TDSB’s Aboriginal Education Centre, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and non-profit food security organization FoodShare. About 900 students from Bloor CI and Alpha II Senior Alternative School—which currently operate under the same roof—will relocate to a new secondary school when it’s built.
Nann said members of her community group have been meeting regularly since November 2014, when the TDSB announced plans to sell the public land at Bloor and Dufferin.
NOW Toronto‘s Steve Fisher reports on the closure, at the end of this month, of Toronto’s Storefront Theatre, located on Bloor just west of Ossington. A nice venue that hosted shows I enjoyed, apparently the theatre’s hold on its property was too tenuous to justify staying there. I hope they can find a place in this neighbourhood to stay.
Storefront Theatre, the Bloor and Delaware venue where award-winning work has been cultivated and produced for the past four years, has until the end of the month to vacate the premises.
The news was first delivered Monday night from the Storefront stage by company member Scott Garland, outgoing producer and co-host of the Sing For Your Supper playreading series (which co-hosts/producers Kat Letwin and Cameron Wyllie plan to continue, nomadically), and was confirmed this morning in a press release put out by Storefront.
The news may seem sudden, and is a definite blow to the six remaining shows in Storefront’s 2016-2017 season (some of which may still be presented at alternate venues). But as Storefront Arts Initative’s managing director Claire Burns says, a move has been in the planning stages for some time.
“The tenancy has always been shaky,” says Burns. “We had a lease, but after the flood [in 2014], we moved to a verbal month to month agreement. For the past year, we really wanted to sign a multi-year lease, so we could invest in the space.”
Storefront ran a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2016 to renovate, which would have included soundproofing to mollify the neighbours. But there was no point in beginning those renovations and bringing the space up to code (a necessary step towards a full liquor licence for the venue, which has until now made do with special event permits) if there was no lease to protect their investments, and said lease never materialized.
“So we have some money to start with elsewhere,” says Burns, referring to the renovation campaign coffers, “though we’re hoping to build on that.”
On Saturday the 31st of December, 2016, I visited Honest Ed’s on its last day of operation. There was very little merchandise available for sale, tattered shopping bags and old signs and (oddly enough) 2016 Sunday missals aside. There were plenty of other fellow sightseers, even photographers. It was a nice shared experience, bidding goodbye to an institution that had been around for generations.
All of my photos are hosted on my Flickr account, and are also viewable in this Facebook album.
In The Globe and Mail, John Lorinc reports on the return of the Annex’s Country Style Hungarian restaurant to operation.
When Country Style Hungarian Restaurant, a venerable schnitzel house on Bloor Street West, shut its doors earlier this summer, rumours quickly began circulating in Toronto’s food-o-sphere about its demise.
Which wouldn’t have been such a surprise. After all, the 54-year-old Annex institution is the last survivor in a stretch once known as the goulash archipelago, with eateries such as The Coffee Mill, Marika’s, Csarda House, The Blue Danube Room, Continental and Korona. The owners have mostly retired or died.
This particular closure turned out to be not only temporary, but a kind of reboot. The interlude allowed owner Katalin Koltai to do a stem-to-stern renovation, the first real overhaul since 1975. The restaurant reopened late last month.
[. . .]
The facelift cost her more than $150,000 and is meant to secure the business so that Ms. Koltai’s daughter, also named Katalin, can take over when she retires. The work included new kitchen equipment, counters, chairs, bathroom fixtures and even a digital cash register to replace the restaurant’s antiquarian push-button version.