Former mayor BARBARA HALL and her city council can take much of the credit for the success story unfolding today in TORONTO’s Fashion District (roughly Richmond West to King Street, and Bathurst to John.) This area was once a prime industrial hub in the city’s core. But in the 1980’s it was heading to rust bucket land as industry moved out, first to suburbia, then overseas and to the US and Mexico. Brick warehouses emptied out, and property owners began demolishing them with little regard for their heritage value.
Mayor Hall and her council brought in The Regeneration Planning Initiative, eliminating traditional land use restrictions and calling for the preservation of these wonderful old structures. Today, the Fashion District is a boomtown within a boomtown. The warehouses are fully occupied with light industrial businesses – new media, technology, fashion, architecture and entertainment.
With an influx of sidewalk patios, several fine restaurants, office towers and apartment buildings, the district has become a hot, go-to downtown destination. Best of all – the developers are treating the heritage buildings with more than a little respect.