The reburbished BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA. 506 Bloor Street West, began programming on March 12/2012, after a year-long upgrade and refit. The ANNEX has its neighbourhood cinema back again. http://www.bloorcinema.com
JASON Y. NG is a freelance writer who raves and rants about HONG KONG and the quirky, endearing people with whom he shares the tiny island. Born in the city, he spends much of his time there, but regularly visits TORONTO. His father lives here. Jason writes a biweekly column “As I See It” at http://www.jasonyng.blogspot.com/ and you can find his newest blog – “The Real Deal” at http://www.realdealhk.blogspot.com
From Jason’s book “Hong Kong State of Mind: a city that doesn’t blink” http://www.blacksmithbooks.com . . .
“On any given day at any given time, close your eyes and all you will hear are the roaring diesel engines of our double-decker buses. Hong Kong joins Britain, Russia, Singapore and Sri Lanka in the exclusive club of insane countries that still let these urban dinosaurs roam their streets.”
“During the steamy summer months from May through September, these old clunkers become heaters-on-wheels. Trapped by traffic lights, they form a wall of metal that blocks air flow and raises the outdoor temperature by several degrees. And because the massive vehicles need extra muscles to climb those hilly routes, they are fitted with much more powerful – and thus much noisier – engines than their European manufacturers have intended.”
“Traffic accidents are a daily occurence in Hong Kong, but those involving a double-decker are almost guaranteed to be sensational: a two-storey bus flipping over a sharp turn like a fish lying on its side, riders being thrown out of the upper deck like human cannonballs, or the entire roof of the vehicle ripped off by a building protrusian like a convertible going to the beach.
“Pink elephants are stampeding down our streets but no one is saying a word.”
MOD Developments has come to the rescue of 197 Yonge Street, abandoned and on the market – its insides rotting since 1987. The derelict park next door and the laneway behind were left to garbage, graffiti, the homeless and the pigeons. It looked as if this property was doomed.
Developer Gary Switzer: “As a Torontonian, as a citizen, developer and architect, I’d walk by the site all the time and think, ‘what’s going on’? The whole city is booming and you’ve got this beautiful old building that’s been vacant for so many years. It’s the kind of site that gets my creative juices going in terms of what should happen there.”
And here’s what will be happening there: MOD plans to restore the Bank of Commerce and incorporate it into a mixed-use project. The idea is to build a 60-storey condo tower – named to honour the Massey Family (of Massey Harris and Massey Ferguson). There’ll be retail at street level, and possibly some office space. The restored Bank of Commerce building will become the front lobby.
The structure’s restoration will be a challenge for ERA architect, Michael McClelland: “We’re responsible for dealing with 25 years of broken windows and leaky skylights. On the third floor you can bounce on the floors, they’re so rotten. In the basement, the ceiling looks like it’s about to collapse.”
Massey Music Hall stands to benefit greatly from this project. MOD will donate a leg of the property to the theatre, allowing – for the first time – the construction of a loading dock. Gary Switzer: “Massey Hall has gone to heaven that finally they have a neighbour that they can work with and will help them achieve their dreams.”
Behind the building will be a parking block, that will match the height of the yellow-brick Heintzman Building, and on top of this – a rooftop terrace with a pool. Retail will be housed in a transparent glass box, offering views of the old Bank of Toronto next door.
The Bank of Toronto (PHOTOS BELOW), 205 Yonge Street, is also vacant, but is reportedly being refurbished by an Irish owner. Its neo-classical design features a dome and glass ceiling,. Architect E. J. Lennox, 1905.
James Robinson, executive director of the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Association: “The Massey Tower announcement is really positive. It’s taking us beyond the safety and cleanliness issues that have plagued that block for so long. This is long overdue.” THUMBNAILS ABOVE – SimonP./wikipedia & http://www.torontodesign.tumblr.com
Bishop’s Block, now being reconstructed behind the Shangri-la Hotel/condo complex on Adelaide Street at Simcoe, is about to become SOHO HOUSE, an international club for the uber-creative. There are established branches in Berlin, West Hollywood, Miami and London among others; upcoming - Mumbai, Chicago, Istanbul and TORONTO. Members must have a legit affiliation with each city’s arts community; executives of companies that use creatives need not apply.
STOCKHOLM’s metro: 100 stations, 47 underground, 53 above ground, 7 colour-coded lines, first opened in 1950, 106 kilometres (66 miles) long. City population: 851,155; metropolitan population: 2,517,000.
Trains operate from 5 am until 1 am weekdays; 24 hours on weekends. PHOTOS – http://www.visualnews.com
In an 8 minute interview (02/24/2012) with DALE GOLDHAWK on AM740, City Councillor ADAM VAUGHAN (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) aired some opinions on the transit standoff between Mayor Rob Ford and City Council.
—- “There are some politicians who are more comfortable campaigning than governing. If Rob and Doug Ford want to run a continuous election campaign, that’s up to them.”
—- “There’s a parade passing by. The Mayor is welcome to join it. If all he can do is stand on the sidewalk and say ‘stop’, we’re marching on without him.”
—- “Rob is entitled to his political position. But in the election campaign he talked more about banning immigration than building subways.”
—- “Light-rail transit is not a trolley system. Sydney and Melbourne have light-rail transit. The temporary replacement for (fired TTC General Manager) Gary Webster is Australian. He would know. Light-rail is most appropriate in post war suburbs like Scarborough.”
—- “The Mayor has a bully pulpit – an ability to project an agenda. But this agenda is no longer a fait accompli. Council is starting to find a way, with or without the Mayor, to move ahead.”
—- “Rob Ford has made a career out of saying ‘no’ when everyone else is saying ‘yes’. Being a contrarian like that means using up a lot of wasted energy.”
—- “I’ve been around council for most of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a council as collegial as this one. There are about 30+ councillors who, in a moment of clarity during the budget debate, kept coming back to the fact that we have to work together.”
Only Sao Paulo, Brasilia and San Francisco outpaced the commercial rent increases seen in TORONTO, according to Cushman and Wakefield’s annual Office Space Across the World 2012 report. VANCOUVER was Canada’s most expensive office market in 2011 with rents averaging $33.87 per square foot per year, compared with $23.30 in TORONTO.
Stuart Barron, national director of research for commercial brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield: “TORONTO has come through an extremely robust period of demand and it has tightened the market to the point where it’s challenging to find the quality locations for companies that are in the market right now. Companies are more and more of the mindset that the higher cost of downtown real estate is actually an investment in their workforce.”
Thousands of northbound TORONTO motorists see its rainbow colours every day. Constructed in 1962, painted by an unsung artist, the Rainbow Tunnel is probably the most-viewed culvert in the world. In 2008, it even made the cover of a Tate Britain publication.
Artist PETER DOIG was born in Edinburgh, lived in Montreal in the mid-1980′s, and is especially known for abstract landscape paintings. Our rainbow culvert apparently caught his eye, and in 2001 he painted it. “Country Rock” was part of an exhibition – “Spectral Landscapes” – at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, 952 Queen Street West, organized by the National Gallery of Canada.
The culvert itself was recently repainted.
A variation on a theme from http://www.131313thavenue.tumblr.com . . .