A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘koreatown

[PHOTO] Signed at 615 Bloor Street West, in Hangul

This colourful portrait is painted on the side of Umji Bunsik, one of my favourite Korean restaurants at 615 Bloor Street West and a famed maker of famed pork bone soup. Visible in the close-up, to left by the palm tree, is a passage in hangul that I’m told by a Korean-speaking friend is two street names, “Christie Ossington”, referring to two major north-south streets just to the west.

Signed at 615 Bloor Street West, in Hangul (1)

Signed at 615 Bloor Street West, in Hangul (2)

Written by Randy McDonald

February 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On the renewal of Toronto’s Metro Theatre

The Metro Theatre, located at 677 Bloor Street West squarely in the middle of downtown Toronto’s Little Korea, is a classic porn theatre, Toronto’s last porn theatre. Decades after transitioning from a perfectly respectable children-suitable movie theatre to something seedier, subject of a breathless review in blogTO in 2009 and complaints from urban renewal folk about the blight in a generally prosperous neighbourhood, a 2011 Toronto Star article suggested that the Metro Theatre persisted because of the inertia of local real estate markets.

The Metro persists not because of a loyal following of devoted connoisseurs or an eccentric philanthropist with a soft spot for vintage erotica, but because Hirji has priced the property out of the market in an attempt to recover his considerable losses.

The 5,450 square-foot space — with two classic 300-seat theatres — is listed for sale at $3.59 million, or $658 per square foot, which even the property’s broker admits is overpriced by almost half.

“The asking price is on the high side,” says Joseph Kang, of Keller Williams Real Estate Service. “$2 million would be a reasonable price.”

Steps away from Christie subway station at 677 Bloor St. W., The Metro will be “a prime development site,” says Steven Alikakos, senior vice-president of DTZ Barnicke, a commercial real estate brokerage. “[But] the costs of turning the space into something usable are just too much to make it work at $3.5 million.”

Building a residential development would require buying the adjacent corner grocery, Alikakos said, and even then the developer would only be able to build eight storeys. “You can’t make money on eight storeys at the price he’s trying to sell it.”

Metro Theatre (1)

Metro Theatre (2)

The Metro Theatre is being relaunched as Toronto’s next art-house theatre. (With some adult films.)

“I hope this will become the independent art house cinema in the west of Toronto,” said Jonathan Hlibka, who along with business partner Nadia Sandhu hopes to revitalize the 1930s-era theatre.

When Toronto’s appetite for porn in public gave way to VCRs, the theatre began its long decline. Most of the posters of scantily clad bodies lining the entrance of the theatre are faded, the marquee is missing a few light bulbs and there are no film titles displayed.

The Metro, as it’s known, has been on the real estate market for a decade, and is listed at $3.8 million.

Hlibka and Sandhu see potential there and plan to show indie, art house and foreign films four nights a week, while the theatre will continue to show adult films in the afternoon. The pair will also hold events and parties to bring the community together.

Hlibka had been in talks for about a year with the theatre’s owner, Karim Hirji, who came from Tanzania in the 1970s and bought the cinema with his father.

The theatre will open to non-adult films around Aug. 24 with the Irish film Snap. The grand reopening will happen sometime in September.

Metro Theatre (3)

Metro Theatre (4)

Will this work? The quiet consensus, as reported by the CBC, seems to be that this is as good an approach as any.

Ryerson University professor Paul Moore, who has studied the history of movie theatres, thinks the idea might work. The Metro, he notes, was never a mainstream theatre but was instead independent at its opening in 1939, showing a “scandalous” B-movie called, Delinquent Parents: The Unforgettable Drama of Modern Youth and Selfish Parents.

Though he says it won’t be a theatre that will appeal to families or children, it will fulfil a niche in Toronto by having foreign films downtown.

“It’s going to be for hipster, university students and esthetes that are interested in global cinema and adults and downtown cosmopolitan types that are interested in cinema,” he said. “And I don’t think that a downtown hipster kind of person is going to be that worried about this being a pornographic cinema in the afternoon.”

The market for pornography in movie theatres was gutted when the VCR came along in the early 1980s. Adult theatres have also suffered for the same reasons independent cinemas have — competition from the Hollywood blockbuster, the mega-plex, and the internet.

“The ones that are left are serving an art house clientele or a very niche neighbourhood community-centre kind of model,” he said.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 21, 2012 at 3:04 am

[URBAN NOTE] On the relaunching of Toronto’s Metro Theatre

The Metro Theatre, located at 677 Bloor Street West squarely in the middle of downtown Toronto’s Little Korea, is a classic porn theatre, Toronto’s last porn theatre. Decades after transitioning from a perfectly respectable children-suitable movie theatre to something seedier, subject of a breathless review in blogTO in 2009 and complaints from urban renewal folk about the blight in a generally prosperous neighbourhood, a 2011 Toronto Star article suggested that the Metro Theatre persisted because of the inertia of local real estate markets.

The Metro persists not because of a loyal following of devoted connoisseurs or an eccentric philanthropist with a soft spot for vintage erotica, but because Hirji has priced the property out of the market in an attempt to recover his considerable losses.

The 5,450 square-foot space — with two classic 300-seat theatres — is listed for sale at $3.59 million, or $658 per square foot, which even the property’s broker admits is overpriced by almost half.

“The asking price is on the high side,” says Joseph Kang, of Keller Williams Real Estate Service. “$2 million would be a reasonable price.”

Steps away from Christie subway station at 677 Bloor St. W., The Metro will be “a prime development site,” says Steven Alikakos, senior vice-president of DTZ Barnicke, a commercial real estate brokerage. “[But] the costs of turning the space into something usable are just too much to make it work at $3.5 million.”

Building a residential development would require buying the adjacent corner grocery, Alikakos said, and even then the developer would only be able to build eight storeys. “You can’t make money on eight storeys at the price he’s trying to sell it.”

Metro Theatre (1)

Metro Theatre (2)

The Metro Theatre is being relaunched as Toronto’s next art-house theatre. (With some adult films.)

“I hope this will become the independent art house cinema in the west of Toronto,” said Jonathan Hlibka, who along with business partner Nadia Sandhu hopes to revitalize the 1930s-era theatre.

When Toronto’s appetite for porn in public gave way to VCRs, the theatre began its long decline. Most of the posters of scantily clad bodies lining the entrance of the theatre are faded, the marquee is missing a few light bulbs and there are no film titles displayed.

The Metro, as it’s known, has been on the real estate market for a decade, and is listed at $3.8 million.

Hlibka and Sandhu see potential there and plan to show indie, art house and foreign films four nights a week, while the theatre will continue to show adult films in the afternoon. The pair will also hold events and parties to bring the community together.

Hlibka had been in talks for about a year with the theatre’s owner, Karim Hirji, who came from Tanzania in the 1970s and bought the cinema with his father.

The theatre will open to non-adult films around Aug. 24 with the Irish film Snap. The grand reopening will happen sometime in September.

Metro Theatre (3)

Metro Theatre (4)

Will this work? The quiet consensus, as reported by the CBC, seems to be that this is as good an approach as any.

Ryerson University professor Paul Moore, who has studied the history of movie theatres, thinks the idea might work. The Metro, he notes, was never a mainstream theatre but was instead independent at its opening in 1939, showing a “scandalous” B-movie called, Delinquent Parents: The Unforgettable Drama of Modern Youth and Selfish Parents.

Though he says it won’t be a theatre that will appeal to families or children, it will fulfil a niche in Toronto by having foreign films downtown.

“It’s going to be for hipster, university students and esthetes that are interested in global cinema and adults and downtown cosmopolitan types that are interested in cinema,” he said. “And I don’t think that a downtown hipster kind of person is going to be that worried about this being a pornographic cinema in the afternoon.”

The market for pornography in movie theatres was gutted when the VCR came along in the early 1980s. Adult theatres have also suffered for the same reasons independent cinemas have — competition from the Hollywood blockbuster, the mega-plex, and the internet.

“The ones that are left are serving an art house clientele or a very niche neighbourhood community-centre kind of model,” he said.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 20, 2012 at 10:59 pm

[LINK] Some Saturday lnks

It’s Saturday, yes, but I’ve been busy and I’m here and you’re here, so here we go again.

  • blogTO’s Christopher Reynolds points to a new Korean neighbourhood in Toronto at Yonge and Finch, apparently known as “North Korea” due to its northerly location as opposed to Koreatown (“South Korea”) at Bloor and Christie.
  • The Bloor-Lansdowne Blog has a picture of a basketball game in Dufferin Grove park, one of the several Toronto parks with very heavy communtiy involvement.
  • Crooked Timber suggests that convergent US and EU unemployment rates show that labour flexibility laws don’t really mean that much in regards to unemployment levels generally. Thoughts?.
  • The Invisible College’s Richard Normam writes about the scale of the economic collapse in Zimbabwe, as witnessed from Harare.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money’s Robert Farley blogs about China’s apparent willingness to copy, without any credit at all, Russian military technology (here, carrier-based fighters).
  • Normblog reacts to the recent conviction in Montréal of Rwandan Désiré Munyaneza for crimes against humanity comitted during the Rwandan genocide, and its relationship to the principle of universal jurisdiction.
  • According to Noel Maurer at The Power and the Money, Brazil is considering building a high-speed rail link between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The economics might well work here, at least.
  • Spacing Toronto’s Jake Schabas blogs about the forgotten hamlet of Elmbank, a Toronto suburban community obliterated by industrial expansion.
  • Window on Eurasia reports that some Abkhazians are afraid of being absorbed by their Russian sponsor.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 30, 2009 at 9:08 am

[PHOTO] Cavalcade of Light Tiger


Cavalcade of Tiger Light
Originally uploaded by rfmcdpei

This is my picture of the Koreatown Business Improvement Area‘s good-luck holiday tiger, erected in Koreatown (naturally) just steps from the Christie TTC station at Bloor and Christie.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with , ,

[PHOTO] Welcome to Yankee Stuff


Welcome to Yankee Stuff
Originally uploaded by rfmcdpei

This is a photo I took this summer past of Yankee Stuff, a store that–as Torontoist’s Jamie Bradburn puts it–stood out for “proudly displaying the red, white, and blue (and several small Canadian flags) on Bloor Street in Korea Town,” promising “”Winners Quality at Ed’s Prices… THAT’S WHY CRAZY PRICES!” (“Ed’s” refers to “Honest Ed’s,” the nearby huge discount/bargain store).

After seeing a 50% recession sale on all items, Bradburn returned after Christmas to the store only to find that, “based on the wrapping paper covering the display window, the recession had claimed another victim.

The lesson? Be careful of naming your sale after an economic event, as said event may come back to bite you.”

Written by Randy McDonald

January 30, 2009 at 7:45 am

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with , ,

[URBAN NOTE] Tokyo


Tokyo #1
Originally uploaded by rfmcdpei

Tokyo #2
Originally uploaded by rfmcdpei

Tokyo #3
Originally uploaded by rfmcdpei

I have no idea who has been stencilling and spraypainting the word “Tokyo” everywhere for the past couple of years or so. I’d guess that it’s some sort of promotion, perhaps for the local band Tokyo Police Club, but I’m just not sure.

I took the first photo at the very westernmost fringes of Koreatown, next to the Christie Pits park and just down from the Christie subway station. The other two photos were taken in the Dovercourt Village neighbourhood (1, 2, 3). See also Chipsterman’s Flickr set Project Tokyo! for more examples.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 25, 2008 at 3:10 pm