October in Yorkville

Monday Oct 06th, 2014


Danger in Paradise.

Some Frightening Moments at a Yorkville Hotel.
Police arrested a 29-year old man inside a luxury hotel in Yorkville on the Saturday morning of September 11th, 2014 after they allegedly found him in possession of a pellet gun. Around 6 a.m., Toronto police received a call to the Hazelton Hotel, located at 118 Yorkville Avenue, about a man who was seen with a weapon. 
Officers evacuated rooms in the vicinity of the suspect's location. They arrested Andrei Radulescu, 29, on the third floor "without incident", said Staff Sgt. Glenn Gray with the Toronto police's 53 Division. He said the police found the suspect in possession of a pellet gun. "Hotel employees co-operated with police and there were no threats or confrontations," said Cassie Prosper, a spokeswoman for the hotel in an emailed statement to CBC News. 
"The hotel relocated one guest temporarily, as per police instruction. No one was injured and The Hazelton is back to operating as usual." The suspect has been charged with "numerous weapons offences," Gray said.

The suspect has been charged with "numerous weapons offences," Gray said, and is expected to appear in a Toronto courtroom on Sunday. 

A Walk Score? What is That?!
That is what an overwhelming majority of homebuyers want according to the Pembina Institute. Most areas in the GTA are given what is called a "walk score", which is simply a rating from 1 to 100 as to how easy the essential services a homeowner require are available to him/her, without using a car. Anyone caught up in GTA traffic gridlock lately? Transportation, preferably a subway, schools, shopping, restaurants, community resources and even work, should be within easy walking distance from one's home. The more resources are available in a neighbourhood, the higher the walk score. In a recent survey by Pembina, an overwhelming number of buyers said they would turn down a detached home in the suburbs for smaller urban accommodation where they could enjoy a high walk score, even if they had to pay more! Guess what the walk score of Yorkville is? Hint: Living doesn't get any easier in Yorkville.

Do You Remember The Time...?
At the end of the Second World War, Yorkville was home to mostly working-class families and dreary shops. Then in the 50's, the area became a magnet to entrepreneurs. Local artists were attracted to Yorkville's laid back character and low rents, and moved in to make Yorkville the centre of the arts scene in the city. The galleries that sprang up to serve them drew visitors from all over the city, and the country. Jazz musicians, dancers, bands, writers and composers and many of the top singers of the day combined to start Yorkville on a journey through some very interesting times. 

In the 1960's, the flower children descended on Yorkville in droves. Attracted again by the low rents and the blossoming "interesting" environment. This was Yorkville, a cultural crossroad, a musicial mecca, a breeding ground of singers, artists, songwriters and poets not seen outside of Greenwich Village in NYC or LA's Haight-Ashbury District. Coffee shops were set up along Yorkville Avenue in the old Victorian houses, although rumour has it that coffee was not the only stimulant sold in these establishments. At 112 Yorkville Ave. the Penny Farthing was doing a roaring business in coffee, as was the Mynah Bird at 114 Yorkville, where scantily clad go-go dancers gyrated in a glass outside cubicle on the second floor. The Mynah Bird was the first to feature topless dancers and was the most notorious. 130 Yorkville was the original Mr. Submarine, 134 Yorkville was the most famous coffee house of all, featuring the subterranean tables of the Riverboat. Artists such as Gordon Lightfoot played here, as did Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and countless others that went on to make their name and fame in the music world. Lightfoot wrote Steel Rail Blues, Mitchell's "Night in the City" was her tribute to the dazzling lights of Yorkville, and "Both sides now" debuted here.

Neil played tribute to the Riverboat in his "Ambulance Blues" with the line "back in those old folkie days, the Riverboat was rockin' in the rain,". This birthplace of Canadian popular song, The Riverboat rocked on in the rain until 1978 when the doors of the cellar were closed forever.
116-134 Yorkville Avenue became the symbols of the village and was the main centre of activity for the area. It was a time of free love and great music that lives on forever in the minds of the Torontonians that lived it. Those same Torontonians that walked through Yorkville's dark side are now probably collecting their old age pensions and reminiscing about "the good ol' days".

Like all good things, Yorkville's days as a risque place to be seen and party, had to come to an end. Toronto's constabulary fussed about the crowds, the motorcycle gangs, and the hard drugs the gangs brought with them...and finally the colourful hippies were driven out by redevelopment, rising property prices and the crackdown on a nostalgic and controversial lifestyle. Some of the old Victorian structures that housed the old coffee houses still exist, though in a somewhat different form. 
Today, Yorkville has evolved into a haven of posh restaurants and expensive boutiques, and serves as a fashion centre for visiting tourists, movie stars and wealthy Torontonians. People now come from all over the world to experience the chic and sophistication that is Yorkville. Today, the old Riverboat site is now part of The Hazelton Hotel, one of Toronto's most prestigious hotels. Look for the plaque on the wall indicating the cultural landmark of a bygone era. 

Take a stroll through Yorkville and try to imagine the vibrant life that was here in the 60's. 
What's Developing in Yorkville?
First Capital and Empire Partnering on Yorkville Retail and Condo.
Over two years ago now, we first heard about a new proposal by Empire Communities for the northeast corner of Avenue Road and Yorkville Avenue which would replace the existing low-rise buildings on the site with a 38-storey condominium tower. Amongst the buildings which would come down for the proposal was York Square, seven Victorian homes which in 1968 had been integrated into Yorkville's first commercial redevelopment by renowned architects Jack Diamond and Barton Myers.
Following the Empire announcement, First Capital Realty announced that they had bought 136-138 Yorkville Avenue to the immediate east of the Empire site, and that they would be seeking to redevelop that property as a new entrance to the under-performing Hazelton Lanes shopping complex, another recent purchase of theirs; a new entrance to Hazelton Lanes on popular Yorkville Avenue would provide much more visibility for the high-end but somewhat hidden mall.

Neither Toronto's city planning department nor local residents and business associations were entirely happy with the first Empire proposal, identifying a number of issues with the plan where they wanted improvements. Heritage advocates in particular were dismayed that York Square would be lost, and pressed the City to give it heritage designation. Meanwhile, Empire and First Capital began to explore the possibilities that consolidating their redevelopments would provide. 

Much has happened over the last two years, and especially in the few months, and First Capital and Empire have now resubmitted a prosposal for the combined site which attempts to address the issues identified with the first plan. The new submission is still a work in progress, subject to further community consultations and a full review by the City's planning department. Included with the newly submitted materials is a heritage impact study of York Square by ERA Architects. The materials, with copious information on the latest plans, are now on the City's Yorkville Planning Portal webpage.
Now proposed is a modernist 40-storey condominium tower sculpted into a wave form. It rises beside a U-shaped 3-storey retail podum which provides a new Privately Owned Publicly accessible Space (POPS) fronting on Yorkville Avenue, partly sheltered by a fourth-storey glass and steel canopy. Access to Hazelton Lanes would be provided through a new entrance from the square, and over 62,000 SF of new stores and restaurants would also be built surrounding the open space. The fourth storey would feature both indoor and outdoor amenity space for building residents. The design is by Zeidler Partnership Architects and Richmond Architects.

York Square is now the focus of the ERA heritage impact study, and it includes three options that the renowned firm proposes as responses to be considered. Included below is an early concept image of one possible response.
The new design cuts down on the number of new condominium units, from 342 to 325, while increasing the number of storeys from 38 to 40, as the tower's floor plate has less bulk. The tower is now farther from the corner, increasing the separation distance between it and the 33-storey Yorkville Plaza tower to the south. The tower will not impact the Queens Park view corridor which has been the focus of much attention to proposals to the south of this one. All vehicular access to the new development's garage would be through the existing Avenue Road entrance to Hazelton Lanes to which it would be connected at each underground level.
If you'd like on-going information regarding this project, please click here to stay informed of further developments.
What's Happening in Yorkville?

Grand Opening of BUCA (Four Seasons).
Join us for our public grand opening on October 9th of the new BUCA restaurant, located on the ground floor of 55 Scollard Street in the Four Seasons Private Residences. 

Yorkville dwellers, already smug over the arrival of Cafe Boulud, will soon have another reason to boast: the much-lauded BUCA will also be setting up shop at the new Four Seasons development at Bay and Yorkville. Although the 3,500 square-foot space is slightly smaller than the King Street flagship, it will seat around 70 and have a patio.

The offshoot will be much like the original BUCA in spirit - with a daily menu written by executive chef Rob Gentile that uses premium ingredients to reinterpret classic Italian fare - without being an outright duplicate. We're also told the restaurant will have a BAR BUCA in the front, which will serve coffee and pastries in the morning, and wine starting in the afternoon. The team will be bringing in pastry chef Antonia Marfia of Sicily's Pasticceri to head their bread and pastry department. 

I can't wait!

Clare Twomey Exhibits at The Gardiner Museum Commencing October 4.
Clare Twomey exhibits at the Gardiner Museum commencing October 4, 2014. Clare is a British artist that works with large clay installations. Over the past 10 years she has exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museums in London, the Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto Japan, the Royal Academy of Arts as well as many others. Clare's showcase of clay art is guaranteed to surprise, will be unlike any other clay artist you have seen before, and will be a rare treat for fans of this medium. This is her first exhibit in Toronto and we should roll out a warm welcome for this creative genius. Please go to www.gardinermuseum.on.ca/exhibitions/clare-twomey for more information.

Pretty in Pink. 
A Yorkville Fundraiser for Breast Cancer Research.

Brought to you by Jeanne Lottie & Forest Hill Real Estate [Yorkville], we are proud to announce a breast cancer awareness fundraiser called Pretty in Pink. Held on Saturday October 18, 2014 from 12PM - 5PM at the PINK HOUSE in Yorkville (32 Scollard Street). Join us for a fashion show, pink treats & beverages, pink manicures, pink makeup applications, pink gift bags and much more. The first 100 guests will receive a pink-filled gift bag, so make sure to arrive early! Kindly RSVP to info@pinkthetown.com

It is a perfect opportunity to celebrate women, their femininity, Yorkville and everything pink while supporting a great cause. Bring your mothers, wives, daughters, and even the males in your family and meet fellow Yorkville Report subscribers and Yorkvillites alike! The invitation can also be found here at www.bloor-yorkville.com/events.aspx.
Say Goodbye to The Travel Stop. 
Established in 1983, The Travel Stop carried the finest of luggage and the largest selection of travel accessories. After 31 years of success and prominence on Cumberland Street, we say goodbye to one of our favourite travel outfitters. The Travel Shop will be missed. 
Let's Talk REAL ESTATE. 

Sotheby's pegs the GTA as the leader in Canadian high-end real estate. July luxury home numbers came in among the strongest for the year. The most significant sales numbers were at the $1.2M to $1.5M price point. Homes above $2M trumped those between $1.5M and $1.75M. The study predicts a seller's market into the fall driven by tight inventory and high demand, a trend that will put pressure on the condo market as buyers are priced out of homes. 

So how is the condo market?

The last six months have produced a total of 83 condo sales in Yorkville, a 7.8% increase in volume from last issue. The increase can be primarily attributed to the busy month of September which marks the beginning of the traditionally robust Fall Market. The average price of  Yorkville condominium is approximately $1,112,972. This figure represents a 6% increase from the previous 6-month moving average. 

Two bedroom suites continue to lead the way in terms of popularity, accounting for almost 45% of all Yorkville condo transactions. The market remains brisk in Canada's most desired address. 

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