BUILT IN 1872 TO DRY FIRE HOSES, THE ST. CHARLES CLOCK TOWER WILL BE SAVED

STCHARLES1  <PHOTO ABOVE  – The St. Charles in the 1970’s, City of Toronto Archives>

Kingsett Capital is planning to transform the west side of Yonge Street at Alexander into a 45 storey mixed-use condo and retail project designed by Quadrangle Architects. The centre piece will be the firehall clock tower, a downtown landmark for nearly 145 years.

Once the firemen moved on, the building beneath the tower became a restaurant, and then TORONTO’s largest LGBTQ dance hall and tavern. Hallowe’en nights in the sixties and seventies attracted huge crowds – up to 5,000 – on the sidewalk opposite, hoping to catch a glimpse of a drag queen or exotic dancer.

AS BOTH LONDON & TORONTO RAPIDLY CHANGE, EVEN THE MIDDLE CLASS IS BEING SHUT OUT

AFFORDABILITY4LONDON, England is in a class by itself. The cost of housing there is staggering, and out of reach for regular folks. “What creativity can there be when only money can buy you your next opportunity?” asks a filmmaker who’s not just leaving the city, but the country.

Communication design lecturer REBECCA ROSS is heading a billboard project stating LONDON’s increasing unaffordability in black and white.

AFFORDABILITY5AFFORDABILITY2AFFORDABILITY3<PHOTOS – Duarte Carrilho da Graça>

AFFORDABILITY1TORONTO has just been named “the income inequality capital of Canada” in a United Way study released on February 27. Drawing on a growing body of research on income disparity, the report warns TORONTO’s growing divide could dampen social mobility, weaken community bonds and undermine economic stability.

Some other cities in the same boat: San Francisco, New York City and Vancouver. They stand accused of declaring war on the middle class.

TORONTO IS BLESSED WITH 5 EXCELLENT CONCERT HALLS & ONE IS GETTING A $135-MILLION MAKEOVER

MASSEY2 It’s the right size, acoustics and ambience are A+, and it boasts history in spades. MASSEY HALL, ‘the old lady of Shuter Street’ is about to undergo a 7-year $135-million makeover from loading docks to more comfortable seating, to uncovering theatre boxes and stained glass windows, increased administrative and lobby space, new washrooms, handicapped access, and the red brick exterior itself.

The goal, according to Massey chief executive CHARLES CUTTS is to “change nothing, improve everything.”

MASSEY5<Rendering of the restored exterior by Cicada Design for Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects>

MASSEY6Who’s appeared on Massey Hall’s famous stage? –  Enrico Caruso (twice); Gordon Lightfoot (annually), George Gershwin (playng his ‘Rhapsody in Blue’); boxer Jack Dempsey; the New Symphony Orchestra (renamed the Toronto Symphony); conductor Igor Stravinsky; Ella Fitzgerald; Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bob Dylan, Luciano Pavarotti, Rush, the 14th Dalai Lama; the musical ‘Cats’; Neil Young; Justin Bieber, Loretta Lynn, Bruce Springsteen, and on and on.

MASSEY7<Massey Hall’s Moorish design details, image c. 1894, Toronto Reference Library>

MASSEY4All of this is being made possible because both the federal and provincial governments have chipped in, as well as the Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank. Developers of the adjacent Massey Tower have donated a key piece of property at the rear of the Hall.

MASSEY1For a history of Massey Hall in point form go to http://www.masseyhall.com/mh_history

TORONTO RACKS UP RECORD NUMBERS OF COMPLETED CONDOS & HOTEL BOOKINGS IN 2014

RECORDS1 10,368 condominium apartments were completed in Greater TORONTO last month. That’s 8 times more than the average of the past decade. Most of the completed units were pre-sold, but the increase raised the number of unsold apartments to a 21-year-high of about 1,600 units, according to BMO.

RECORDS2Demand for TORONTO-area condos remains high. CMHC numbers show a spike in first-time buyers in the GTA choosing condominiums in 2014 – around 29% in 2014, up from 13% ten years ago.

CONVENTIONS1TORONTO’s convention industry is booming again, and this has led to increased hotel bookings – 640,000 hotel room nights from conventioneers alone. In the past two years, TOURISM TORONTO has added part-time sales agents in China and India, supplementing full-time offices in Washington DC, Chicago, Ottawa and Mississauga.

CONVENTIONS3According to the New York Times, the projected number of American visitors to Canada will number 12,500,000 in 2015 – second only to Mexico as a destination. TORONTO will no doubt benefit greatly. <SOURCE – Euromonitor International>

AFFICHISTES WERE STREET ART TRAILBLAZERS – A NEW BOOK & EXHIBIT EXPLORES THEIR WORK

POETRY1

Unfortunately for us over here, the exhibition ‘Poetry of the Metropolis. The Affichistes’ is on until May/2015 at the Schirn Kunsthalle in FRANKFURT. However the accompanying book is available on Amazon.

POETRY5Conceived by the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and the Museum Tinguely in Basel, Switzerland, the exhibition spans the period from 1946 to 1968. It pays attention to the emergence of the street art movement and the Affichistes’ early phases of production.

http://www.schirn.de/en/Home.html

POETRY3POETRY2POETRY4

‘DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’VE GOT ‘TIL IT’S GONE’ – TORONTO’S GAY VILLAGE BECOMES CONDOLAND

It’s the invasion of the condo developers, and we could all see it coming. TORONTO’s little gay village (aka Church-Wellesley Village) will soon be surrounded on all sides by construction cranes. This is prime real estate in the heart of downtown, and the influx of hundreds of new apartments will no doubt change the neighbourhood’s character – maybe for the better, maybe not.

CHURCHSTREET3A few of the buildings going up on Church Street and its immediate vicinity are illustrated below – #1) 70 Carlton Street, 41 storeys, not yet approved, Tribute Communities; #2) 365 Church Street, 30 storeys, Menkes Developments; #3) 66 Isabella Street, 23 storeys, Quadrangle Architects; #4) 81 Wellesley Street East, 28 storeys, Aragon Developments.

This list doesn’t include new high-rises on Wellesley Street West, the Ryerson University campus, Church and Dundas Street East, Church and Queen Street East, and further south.

CHURCHSTREET1   CHURCHSTREET2 CHURCHSTREET4CHURCHSTREET5