WE HATE TO BOAST, BUT DOWNTOWN TORONTO HAS NORTH AMERICA’S LOWEST OFFICE VACANCY RATE

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The prize for North America’s lowest office vacancy rate goes to downtown TORONTO. Lower than MIDTOWN MANHATTAN, lower than SAN FRANCISCO, the Financial District’s rate has dropped to 4.9% in the second quarter of 2016 from 5.3% in the first quarter.  A report from CBRE, a commercial real-estate firm, says this three year decline in vacancies is outperforming the two ‘most solid markets’ in the United States.

ADELAIDE8A building boom in the last three years has added 4.4-million square feet of office space to the city’s core. Millennials are leaving the suburbs for the city centre, leaving vacant space behind. Some established downtown companies are moving into new buildings, leaving more downtown office space in older towers.

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YOUNG CTR. FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS IS BUILT INTO TWO 19TH-CENTURY INDUSTRIAL BLDGS

YOUNGCTR6The Soulpepper Theatre Company and George Brown College have collaborated since 2005 to make the Young Centre an ultra-active arts complex. Something’s nearly always happening in its four theatres and four studio spaces inside two rebuilt Gooderham and Worts tank houses.

YOUNGCTR3YOUNGCTR1Soulpepper was founded in 1998 by twelve TORONTO artists. Their dream was to produce lesser known theatrical classics. The Company has become an important part of our city’s theatre season, presenting year-round Canadian interpretations of works by playwrights Pinter, Wilder, Beckett, Stoppard and Chekhov among many others.

YOUNGCTR2The Young Centre for the Performing Arts is located at 55 Tank House Lane in the Distillery District. For information and tickets go to http://www.soulpepper.ca

PETER KUFLUK (AKA PETER KEIGH) WAS A TORONTO BROADCASTER AND A COLLEGE FRIEND OF MINE

PETER1 <PETER R. KUFLUK (aka PETER KEIGH), graduation photo in The Ryersonian, 1965>  You sense the clock is ticking when university friends begin dying.  Peter and I were together for three years in Radio/Television/Journalism Arts at what was then the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University).  Following graduation, I went into television and Peter into radio.  PETER KEIGH began his broadcasting career at CHUM-FM before he’d left Ryerson. From there he moved to CJRT91.1 to host ‘Morningmusik’ – a classical music program designed to calm the jangled nerves of TORONTO commuters. He was always proud of his 29 years there, in Canada’s most competitive radio market.  From PETER’s Obituary – “He was proud to be among the first in Toronto to use CDs on the air. But what he was most proud of was us, his son Michael and his daughter Rebecca. He will be greatly missed by our mom Marion, his wife and friend of over 40 years. A collector to the end, dad found joy in his library of DVDs, array of tools and assortment of clocks. Dad loved to talk about the weather, the birds on Sturgeon Lake where he lived and the bang-up job he did re-roofing his house last year. Because our dad never had the chance to say goodbye to his many loyal listeners, we would like to take this opportunity to say thank you and goodbye on his behalf. If you have a favourite charity, please donate in honour of Peter.”

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TRANSIT RIDERS & ART LOVERS REJOICE – MICHAEL HAYDEN’S ‘ARC EN CIEL’ IS COMING BACK

YORKDALE4<Yorkdale Station and ‘Arc en Ciel’ – photo Michel Proulx>  ‘Arc en Ciel’ has been lying dormant for the past 20 years or so. But thanks to a grant from Oxford Properties, the TORONTO Transit Commission is ready to embark on a $500,000 illumination project at YORKDALE subway station.

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Created in 1978 by Canadian light sculptor MICHAEL HAYDEN, the rainbow-painted glass tubes on the roof would light up when trains entered and left the station. But when it stopped working, it was deemed too costly to repair.  Enter Oxford Properties, the company behind Yorkdale Shopping Centre, with cash in hand.

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<PHOTO ABOVE – McMaster Museum of Art>  Michael Hayden, studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD).  Working with light and neon, he’s done similar projects around the world, including a spectacular one at CHICAGO’s O’Hare International Airport, others at the Max Bell Theatre in CALGARY and EDMONTON International Airport.  He’s had over 30 solo exhibitions in Canada, the US and Europe.  MICHAEL HAYDEN – “I don’t think there was great wisdom in throwing the piece out.  I was just some hippie from TORONTO who did some art, and they threw it away.  I’m glad it’s going back in.  It”s going to be a more contemporary piece.” – Metro News, July/2016

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CORKTOWN SURFACES IN THIS PAST WEEKEND’S NEW YORK TIMES TRAVEL SECTION

CORKTOWN1MICHAEL KAMINER writes in the Sunday New York Times, July 10/2016“Lower rents and uncommon architectural stock are drawing entrepreneurs to Corktown, on downtown TORONTO’s eastern fringes. For years the turbocharged growth of the city’s downtown bypassed the area.”

CORKTOWN3CORKTOWN4<The Old Dominion Brewery, now home to Vistek>

“Empty storefronts once outnumbered its well-preserved 19th century rowhouses, the remnants of working class Irish-Catholic immigrants who provided Corktown’s name.  Public housing in the neighbourhood’s Regent Park also seemed to inhibit newcomers.  But as condos sprout on Corktown’s edges, small businesses are setting up along King and Queen Streets. Corktown remains one of downtown’s quieter quarters, but the buzz around this historic patch keeps growing.” – MICHAEL KAMINER

CORKTOWN8<St. Paul’s Basilica on Power Street>

CORKTOWN5CORKTOWN2<Sumach Espresso and the Dominion Pub>

CORKTOWN6<Joyce Wieland, wife of artist Michael Snow, lived here for over 2 decades>

CORKTOWN7Where to eat in Corktown according to New York Times TravelCocina Economica, Mexican, family-run at 141 Berkeley Street; Roselle Desserts, jewel-box bakery, 362 King Street East; Impact Kitchen, superb coffee, paleo breakfasts, pastries, 573 King Street East; MADE Design, Canadian-designed objets, 394 King Street East; and <PHOTO BELOW by J. Adam Huggins/NYT>Odin Cafe and Bar, inspired by Scandinavia, evening ‘Viking feasts’, 514 King Street East.

CORKTOWN10CORKTOWN9<PHOTO ABOVE – the new Corktown Common Park, is within the neighbourhood>

TORONTO’S LITTLEST AIRPORT HAS JUST RECORDED ITS BUSIEST MONTH EVER – WAY TO GO!

BILLYBISHOPAIRPORT7Surpassing all expectations, BILLY BISHOP TORONTO CENTRE AIRPORT has racked up a record number of comings and goings in June/2016 – a splendid 250,000.

BILLYBISHOPAIRPORT1The Airport serves Air Canada and PorterAir short takeoff and landings with only one runway. It supports 6,500 jobs – with 1,900 of those directly related to airport operations.

BILLYBISHOPAIRPORT8Billy Bishop is on an island, connected to the mainland by a brand new tunnel and – if you prefer – the shortest ferry ride in the country. It’s within easy reach of TORONTO’s Financial District and a 10 minute walk to public transit.  There’s also a free bus shuttle to downtown T.O. run by PorterAir.

BILLYBISHOPAIRPORT5BILLYBISHOPAIRPORT6There are flights, several times daily, from Billy Bishop to Montreal, Ottawa, New York City, Pittsburgh, Boston, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Halifax, Quebec City, Chicago, Washington DC and Moncton.

RED BRICK MONTEITH STREET KEEPS THE FAITH WITH ITS VICTORIAN ROOTS

MONTEITH8Built between 1883 and 1887 MONTEITH STREET is a block of Victorian-era townhouses facing Barbara Hall Park in the Church-Wellesley Village.

Creator: Harvey R. Naylor Date: April 27, 1971 Archival Citation: Fonds 1526, File 61, Item 78 Credit: City of Toronto Archives www.toronto.ca/archives Copyright was transferred to the City of Toronto by the copyright owner.

<PHOTO ABOVE – the white painted town houses on Monteith face a Loblaw’s grocery store & parking lot, ca1960’s; by Harvey Naylor, City of Toronto Archives>

MONTEITH2<PHOTO ABOVE – these days the cleaned up red brick houses look onto Barbara Hall Park>

MONTEITH7At one end of Monteith is the summertime patio of Church Street’s Smith Restaurant.

MONTEITH5At the other end – the birthplace of Canadian media baron ROY THOMSON (Lord Thomson of Fleet). Thomson was born at #32 on June 5, 1894 to Herbert Thomson (a barber at the Grosvenor Hotel) and Alice Coombs. These days the house is worth well over a million dollars.

MONTEITH4The street is under heritage protection. Garbage bins and parking are forbidden.

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OSSINGTON AVENUE’S SPARKLING NEW MURALS ARE A LOVE LETTER TO THE GREAT LAKES

OSSINGTONMURALS8OSSINGTONMURALS5TORONTO is one of several large cities on the shores of a vast fresh-water inland sea known as The Great Lakes. This summer a group of local and international artists inaugurated a ‘Love Letter to the Great Lakes’ street-art festival. Using West Queen West and Spadina/Queen back alleys, as well as pillars supporting Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway ramps, they painted art – which hopefully will connect with all of us.  The Great Lakes are a national treasure.  They deserve our love.

OSSINGTONMURALS7OSSINGTONMURALS3The 20 murals were made possible with money from the PangeaSeed Foundation, which has done “sea wall” murals in oceanside communities in Mexico, Grenada and New Zealand.

TORONTO’S REAL ESTATE MARKET HAS BECOME A ‘NOT FOR THE FAINT-OF-HEART’ BATTLEGROUND

HOUSING2The supply is dwindling and demand is rising in TORONTO’s hot housing market. Bully offers, bidding wars and heartbreak are abroad in the land, even when it comes to luxury homes.  According to TORONTO Housing Market (Financial Post) –  in June resale home prices boosted by 16%, up 7.5% from 2015;
June listings down 3.8% ; Average selling price for all homes in the GTA from January to June rose 16.8% to $746,546 from the same period in 2015;  In the City of Toronto average sale price for detached homes went up almost 20% to $1,259,486;  Detached homes in the 905 (outer suburbs & cities) rose 21% year over year to an average $892,747

HOUSING6According to Sotheby’s, TORONTO sales for $1-million-plus homes during the first six months of 2016 have exceeded those of VANCOUVER, the hottest market in the country. 134 super-luxury homes were sold in the Greater Toronto Area between January and June. During the same time period there’s been a 64% increase in GTA detached single-family houses in the $1-million to $2-million price range.

HOUSING1VANCOUVER Housing Market (Financial Post)  The index price in Vancouver Metro Region is up about 36%. For detached homes in Metro Vancouver the index price is now about $1.56 millionForeign investment and a low Canadian dollar will no doubt continue driving the Vancouver and Toronto markets according to Sotheby’s.

TORONTO IS A CITY IN MID-PUBERTY & THE MOST FASCINATINGLY BORING CITY IN THE WORLD

TORONTO1The Guardian UK is doing a series of stories this week on Canada. One of them, by Stephen Marche, reveals the secret of his hometown’s transformation into the 21st century’s great post-industrial power house. It’s positive and a fun read.  For the TORONTO story go to https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/jul/04/new-toronto-most-fascinatingly-boring-city-guardian-canada-week    –   Some excerpts below . . .

TORONTO11WHY TORONTO IS FASCINATING – “Toronto’s dullness is what makes it exciting – a tricky point to grasp. The worship of safety and security applies across all fields and industries. . . . The “steady hand” is the Toronto ideal, and Toronto’s steadiness is why people flock here – and all the people flocking here are making it exciting. That’s why Toronto is the most fascinating totally boring city in the world.”

TORONTO6TORONTO IS A SAFE CITY – “It is, by far the safest city in North America – an extraordinarily law-abiding place by any measure. It also produced Rob Ford, the world’s most famous crack-smoking mayor.”

TORONTO2TORONTO vs CHICAGO – “What Chicago was to the 20th century, Toronto will be to the 21st. Chicago is grit, top-quality butchers, glorious modernist buildings and government blight; Toronto is clean jobs and artisanal ice-creameries, identical condos, excellent public schools and free healthcare for all. Chicago is a decaying factory where Americans used to make stuff. Toronto is a new bank where the tellers can speak two dozen languages.”

TORONTO3TORONTO vs MONTREAL – “Montreal decided to become a French-Canadian city. Toronto decided to become a global city.”

TORONTO13TORONTO’S CITY COUNCIL – “It must be the best-run city in the world run by idiots.The council is a pack of hicks and rubes, a visionless amalgam of small-c conservatives and vaguely union-hall lefties, all of them living resolutely in the past. Both sides want to stop what’s happening in the city.  “The lefties want to slow gentrification, and the conservatives think we’ve all been taxed enough.”

TORONTO14THE CURRENT MAYOR ISN’T AN IDIOT – “The current mayor, John Tory, is not an idiot, although he is hardly a figure of the “new Toronto”. He represents, more than any other conceivable human being, the antique white anglo-saxon protestant (Wasp) elite of Toronto, his father being one of the most important lawyers in the city’s history. The old Wasps had their virtues, it has to be said – it wasn’t all inedible cucumber sandwiches and not crying at funerals.”

TORONTO8TORONTO DESIRES DIFFERENCE – ”A 2012 study by the chair of Canadian studies at Berkeley, found that ‘compared to the citizens of other developed immigrant-receiving countries, Canadians are by far the most open to and optimistic about immigration.’ Toronto may be the last city in the world that unabashedly desires difference. There are already plenty of Muslim families in Toronto and they are as boring as any other Canadians.”

TORONTO15TORONTO & THE LESLIE STREET SPIT – “In Toronto, for a hundred years, the authorities let the construction companies just dump their landfill into Lake Ontario, until it turned into a pile of rubble so large that it attracted deer and coyotes and warblers in migration. So, reluctantly, they turned it into a rather gorgeous little park, the Leslie Street Spit.”

TORONTO9TORONTO’S FUTURE – “How much longer can Toronto endure its terminal lightness? How much longer can a city so interesting insist on being so boring? This is a real question.”  Thanks to Stephen Marche for such an enjoyable read, and to The Guardian UK for publishing it.\