A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘mirvish village

[URBAN NOTE] Five Toronto links: Chinatown, Alternative Thinking, Bloor West, Black Toronto,Quayside

  • Toronto’s Chinatown on Spadina Avenue is facing pressures from gentrification, including architectural ones, the Toronto Star observes.
  • blogTO notes that the building housing shop Alternative Thinking is the only survivor of the old Honest Ed’s-anchored Mirvish Village.
  • Urban Toronto shares revised plans for 2452 Bloor Street West, in Bloor West Village near Jane.
  • Black people in Toronto tend to live in “segregated” neighbourhoods, census and other data suggest, according to this article in the Toronto Star.
  • Global News notes the demand of privacy commissioner Anne Cavoukian for the data being gathered by Waterfront Toronto in the Quayside project.

[URBAN NOTE] “This is what Mirvish Village will look like in 5 years”

blogTO’s Derek Flack shares links and images of the plans for Mirvish Village in five years’ time.

With the doors to Honest Ed’s officially closed for good, it’s time to turn our attention to the future of Mirvish Village. We now have a much better of idea of what it’ll look like that thanks to the most recent planning documents filed by site developer Westbank.

The Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village project has undergone extensive revisions in response to community consultation, heritage evaluation and municipal feedback. Now in its third iteration, the plans are starting to resemble what we might see in the next few years.

Some of the highlights from the most recent renderings of the project include a sprawling public park that stretches out from Markham Street, a slick new market building that’ll span 20,000-plus square feet, and a micro retail corridor roughly where Honest Ed’s Alley once was.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 4, 2017 at 4:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Koreatown unsure of what comes next after Mirvish Village”

blogTO’s Amy Grief looks at the speculation in Koreatown as to what will happen to this Bloor West neighbourhood after Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village are gone.

Mirvish Village is vacant and Honest Ed’s had its big goodbye party this past weekend. The end is nigh for the southwest corner of Bloor and Bathurst as the wrecking ball slowly swoops in.

While the intersection was lively this weekend, it’s going to be pretty quiet for the next little while. That’s why I spoke to some of those nearby to see what they think about living and working near a ghost town.

“I think it does feel a bit empty in this moment, but I don’t think it’s really hit a lot of us until we start to see the kind of demolition of buildings,” says Adil Dhalla, one of the organizers behind last weekend’s festivities. We spoke as he was setting up the space.

Dhalla is also the executive direct of the Centre for Social Innovation, which is headquartered just south of Honest Ed’s.

The CSI also has a location in Regent Park, so Dhalla knows it can be complicated to watch as a neighbourhood changes.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 2, 2017 at 9:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Honest Ed’s redevelopment shows what it takes to make a Village”

The Globe and Mail‘s Alex Bozikovic really quite likes the proposed redevelopment of the area of Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village.

Mirvish Village is dead. Long live Mirvish Village. In the area near Honest Ed’s this week, workers had put up fences around a string of Victorian houses on Markham Street, preparing to gut them, while creatives assembled an “Art Maze” inside the old Honest Ed’s store for a festival and sendoff, An Honest Farewell, this weekend.

It’s the end of an age at Bloor and Bathurst Streets: the loveable shambles of Honest Ed’s is gone forever. But as this weekend’s events suggest, the past will continue to have a presence on the site.

The new development at Mirvish Village, after two years of conversation between developers Westbank, locals and the city, is inching closer to approval, with a new proposal submitted in January to the city. Westbank paid $72-million for the site, a big number, and yet the result is as good as private development gets in Toronto. It features meaningful preservation of heritage buildings, a serious sustainability agenda, and affordable housing – not to mention an architectural and leasing strategy geared at making the place as lively as possible, even a bit weird.

That’s all because the developers have been ready to engage in meaningful discussion: The city and the community have made this proposal better through talking and listening.

When the first Westbank proposal emerged in early 2015, “I think [the City of Toronto] were surprised by how much we were offering,” the main architect, Vancouver’s Gregory Henriquez, told me last week. “That’s how we deal in Vancouver: We come with our best offer.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2017 at 7:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Plan for Honest Ed’s site revised to save more heritage buildings, add extra park space”

vCBC News’ Kate McGillivray reports on how the latest plans for the Honest Ed’s site will retain something, at least, of the old character of Mirvish Village.

Revisions to the plan for the site of iconic department store Honest Ed’s will see more heritage buildings saved and feature a larger public park, according to the city’s planning website.

A fresh batch of revisions were submitted to the city’s planning division by the developer, Westbank, in mid-January, which, along with the park and heritage buildings, also promises to reduce the development’s density.

In the original plan submitted by the developer, only 15 heritage buildings were safe from demolition and there was no park.

At this point, 23 of the 27 listed heritage buildings on the site, which is bordered by Bathurst Street, Markham Street, Bloor Street and Lennox Street and also includes some parts of the west side of Markham Street, will be saved. The park is set to be 1,150 square metres.

Vancouver architect Gregory Henriquez, who is leading the design team, told Matt Galloway on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning that the plan is to “build a series of smaller buildings that together form a new village” rather than “one large mega-complex, which is what you see a lot of in Toronto.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 1, 2017 at 7:59 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “A new chapter for a beloved comic hideout”

The Globe and Mail‘s Mark Medley describes how Toronto comic store The Beguiling is managing its move from the soon-to-be-defunct Mirvish Village to a new College Street location.

For nearly two decades, visitors to the Beguiling, the charmingly overstocked comic-book emporium in the heart of Toronto’s Mirvish Village, would often be greeted by the sight of long-time owner Peter Birkemoe sitting in his “office” – perched behind his computer, at the first-floor cash register, surrounded by the ever-encroaching comics, artworks, ‘zines and other ephemera that have made it the most important comic-book store in Canada, and one of the greatest in the world.

“I’ve spent more of my life, hour-wise, awake, in this room, than I’ve spent in any [other] building,” Birkemoe said one morning earlier this month, as he took a break from preparing for the store’s last day, on Tuesday. He laughed, quietly, as if realizing this for the first time. “That will be sad.”

Countless obituaries were written about Honest Ed’s, the discount department store that anchored Mirvish Village, an eclectic block of art studios, restaurants and other small businesses, in the days before the brightly lit retailer shut its doors on Dec. 31, the result of a redevelopment that will significantly alter the southwest corner of Bathurst and Bloor in the coming years. The Beguiling, at least to its customers, is as vital an institution.

Since the store moved into its current home more than 20 years ago, it has served as a sort of clubhouse for many in the city’s comics community. It will survive, in name and in spirit, in a different form – a new location, on College Street, on the edge of Kensington Market, opened last month – but at the same time one can’t help but feel a sense of an ending, that a chapter is coming to a close.

“It will definitely be hard to have that feeling of something just so densely packed with history,” said the comics artist Michael DeForge. “I’m sure the new location will eventually get as lived in, and accumulate that history as it goes on, but that’s going to be a hard thing to get back again.”

[URBAN NOTE] “Mirvish Village joins a history of lost neighbourhoods in Toronto”

blogTO’s Derek Flack places Mirvish Village, with the end of Honest Ed’s set to come to an end itself, in the context of Toronto’s other now-vanished neighbourhoods.

Toronto’s most famous lost neighbourhood is probably The Ward, a densely packed and diverse area that bounded by Yonge, University, Queen, and College streets. At various points, it was home to numerous immigrant enclaves, including an early Little Italy and the city’s first major Chinatown.

The Ward was notorious for its poor living conditions, as many lived crammed into shacks with little ability to maintain warmth over the cold winter months. Some of its areas were, by all rights, a slum, but it was a crucial starting point for many who arrived in the city, and remains an important part of Toronto’s history as a diverse city.

A huge portion of the neighbourhood was razed for the construction of the New City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square in the early 1960s. This had a ripple effect on the entire area, which the city had been gradually redeveloping since the 1920s. Chinatown and Little Italy moved west and by the 1970s, very little of the old neighbourhood remained.

errard Village is another of Toronto’s lost neighbourhoods. Located within the broad borders of The Ward, it had boasted an identity quite distinct from the area to the south. This was Toronto’s Greenwich Village, a hub of bohemian activity through the 1950s and early 1960s.

Populated by intellectuals and artists, the area surrounding Gerrard and Bay streets featured coffee and books shops, live music venues, and cheap restaurants. It was just a tiny stretch of the city, much like Mirvish Village, but people like Pierre Berton considered it an “intriguing island in the heart of downtown Toronto.”

Written by Randy McDonald

January 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Why losing Mirvish Village is like losing a piece of Toronto”

CBC News’ Amanda Margison writes about how the end of Honest Ed’s, far from being limited to the store itself, will also end the adjacent Mirvish Village neighbourhood. Honest Ed’s had created an maintained this unique neighbourhood for decades. The disappearance of Honest Ed’s, and of Mirvish Village, will leave these creators and businesspeople bereft.

A tree-lined side street so unique to Toronto that it became known as a village will empty out next month with long-term tenants bemoaning a loss of an important part of the city’s history.

Mirvish Village, the stretch of Markham Street located in the shadow of the iconic Honest Ed’s building, has been home to art studios and one-of-a-kind shops tucked into brightly painted century homes for decades. But by the end of January, approximately 70 tenants — including those who have worked on the block since the 1970s — will be evicted.

“The magic of walking a few meters from Bloor where the car traffic is heavy and noisy and finding a village, it was only a block long but it really was a village,” said Darrel Dorsk, one of the residents who has received an eviction notice.

[. . .]

Mirvish Village is part of the 1.8 hectare parcel of land at Bathurst and Bloor Streets that Westbank Development Corporation bought from the Mirvish family in 2013.

Westbank plans to build a new condo and retail project in the area in an effort to “breathe new life into this unique neighbourhood.” Those plans, however, have not been approved by the city and may not be until the spring.

Westbank spokesperson Anne O’Hagan said the plan is to preserve many of the heritage houses on Markham Street, while interspersing townhouses and slim towers that could be up to 29 storeys tall.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 31, 2016 at 4:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] CBC and Torontoist on the closing of Beit Zatoun, Mirvish Village

CBC News’ Laura Howells reported on the imminent closure of Palestinian diaspora centre Beit Zatoun, displaced by the transformation of Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village.

Toronto’s rampant development is claiming another casualty this week: community space Beit Zatoun will host its final event on Wednesday.

Tucked away in the Annex neighbourhood, Beit Zatoun has become a hub of social justice and activism in the city.

In its nearly seven years, the Markham street location has hosted more than 1,000 events — everything from poetry readings to film showings, meetings, lectures, art and music.

But like its neighbour, Honest Ed’s, Beit Zatoun will soon be demolished to make way for the Mirvish Village development.

“It has blazed a path for the grass roots community,” said founder Robert Massoud.

“And now in its leaving, it leaves a hole. And so hopefully people can recognize the need to fill that hole in a different way.”

At Torontoist, Amanda Ghazale Aziz wrote about Beit Zatoun’s impact on her own life.

Beit Zatoun helped me learn about my maternal family. What I got out of this place were tiny fractions of my heritage that wouldn’t have been recovered by my mother’s memory or a detailed Google search. I knew folks who were in the same boat as me, but it was a matter of finding a physical ground.

A community can work to revive lost histories and traditions, but it’s location that gathers them together.

Over the past seven years, Beit Zatoun—“House of Olive” in Arabic—has hosted over 1,000 events coming from virtually every community making up Toronto and cutting across many dimensions of identity. It worked tirelessly to create a community based on mutual awareness and building solidarity. Only 25 per cent of its events had anything to do with the Middle East and the centre was well-known in left and radical activist movements as much as it was a space for the arts, like the Shab-e She’r poetry nights.

To me, it felt like visiting the home of a relative you hadn’t seen in a decade.

While it took me forever to finally visit, I was welcomed with a quiet hospitality by way of treats when I did make the trek. And every single time after that. In fact, Beit Zatoun events were known for having bread, olive oil, za’atar to dip, coffee with cardamom, and tea with sage adorn the tables for people to consume.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 29, 2016 at 5:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “The last days of Mirvish Village before it’s gone”

Amy Grief’s photo essay at blogTO takes a look at the last weeks of Mirvish Village before the transformation of Honest Ed’s guts this small neighbourhood, talking with some of the businesspeople of the street.

Darrel Dorsk started visiting Markham Street when he moved to Toronto from California in 1974. Like many, he would head to David Mirvish Books to buy the Sunday edition of the New York Times. Back then it cost 25 cents; he was a regular customer until the store closed in 2009. By then, the paper was $7.50.

Dorsk runs The Green Iguana Glassworks at 589 Markham St. He’s been in the same spot since 1981 and fills with storefront with his handmade frames, glass baubles and a variety of prints and pictures. “It’s very messy in here, but hopefully people find it interesting,” he says.

Neighbours refer to Dorsk as the mayor of Mirvish Village and he has plenty to say about his time on the street. “I like to tell people I’ve been suffering from an obscure medical syndrome working on Markham Street and the acronym is TMF. It stands for too much fun.”

Dorsk got his start in the 1970s selling stained glass boxes, which he made with his girlfriend at the time. His zoology degree from Berkley hangs in his store and he notes he once wanted to be a veterinarian – that’s why there are so many natural history prints on his wall.

He’s sad to be leaving Markham Street but plans to move his business into a building he bought at 948 Bloor Street West.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 29, 2016 at 4:30 pm