A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘metro

[URBAN NOTE] Five notes about change: U of T, Wexford Plaza, Parkdale, Metro, French immersion

  • Universiy of Toronto contract staff have voted overwhelmingly for a strike mandate. CBC reports.
  • Wexford Plaza, an independent film centered around shopping guards at the Scarborough mall of the same name, has done well in Los Angeles and is set to open here in Toronto. blogTO reports.
  • NOW Toronto notes a protest by Parkdale residents for affordable housing at King and Dufferin, where a massive new development is expected to rise.
  • In response to the new $15 minimum wage, Metro is cutting service hours at some of its 23-hour grocery stores. blogTO reports.
  • I sincerely hope that staffing shortages will not lead the TDSB to cut French immersion from its list of programs. The Toronto Star reports.

[URBAN NOTE] On the closure of Toronto weekly The Grid

I was alerted by Torontoist to the news that The Grid, the free Torstar weekly that succeeded Eye Weekly in 2011, will be closing down effective immediately. Tomorrow’s publication of the 3rd of July will be the final one.

The Toronto Star hosts the Torstar press release.

The award-winning weekly newspaper, aimed at Toronto’s young and vibrant downtown core, was unable to generate sufficient revenue despite a strong and loyal following, the publication’s owner said in a statement.

“It is with considerable regret that I am announcing today the closure of The Grid,” John Cruickshank, president of Star Media Group said in a statement.

[. . .]

Launched in May 2011, The Grid quickly earned a solid reputation as a top-quality, innovative city magazine for the downtown Toronto core, the company said in a statement.

Year after year, The Grid has won national and global awards, ranging from National Magazine Awards to Canadian Online Publishing Awards and awards from the Society for News Design. It is truly a world-leading publication from both a design and content perspective, in digital and in print.

Regretfully, despite a strong and loyal following, we have been unable to generate sufficient revenue from marketers and other sources to fund The Grid’s great journalism.

I will also note that Torstar also owns a 90% share in English Canada’s free morning Metro editions. Will Torstar migrate some of its content from The Grid to the Toronto Metro, I wonder?

Written by Randy McDonald

July 2, 2014 at 4:31 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