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Toronto Real Estate

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Tag Archives: bathurst

Toronto must be careful about what replaces Honest Ed’s

It’s the end of a very long era for Toronto’s iconic retailer, but the demise of Honest Ed’s brings an opportunity for smart planning and neighbourhood renewal.

Toronto Star Editorial

“There’s no place like this place, anyplace.” Those words, emblazoned across the entrance to Honest Ed’s World Famous Bargain Shopping Centre, may well be the store’s only ode to understatement.

So when news filtered out this week that the larger-than-life store at Bathurst and Bloor Sts. was for sale, the sad reaction to the end of Honest Ed’s legacy was, well, a little over the top. But if overt grief is to be expected for a lost retail landmark, then nearby residents have the right to be equally concerned about the type of development that will replace its massive 1.8-hectare footprint. Change is constant, but it isn’t always good.

Honest Ed’s, founded in 1948 by Ed Mirvish, businessman, philanthropist and future theatre-district developer, made the store famous with its relentlessly cheesy slogans. “Honest Ed’s for the Birds! Cheap Cheap Cheap!” Or, “At Honest Ed’s… Only the Floors are Crooked!!” It did make the busy intersection famous, but these days it’s hard to walk down the block without recognizing that the store’s iconic status has faded.

It has been five years since Mirvish passed away but his son, David, has recognized the need for a new beginning. He intends to sell Honest Ed’s, along with family-owned property on adjacent Markham St., to focus on his major redevelopment plans for the theatre district on King St. W. That makes understandable business sense.

But if Honest Ed’s faces inevitable renewal, then the increasingly well-off community surrounding the store should take immediate action to help the city create a plan for the future. Despite the early stages of grief over a departing legend, it’s not too soon to discuss the greater public interest: What, exactly, will replace it?

Given its prime location on the Bloor subway and a major streetcar line, the easy answer is a mixed-use development of stores, businesses and – no surprise – condos. Properly designed, with sensitivity to the nearby homes, that could be an addition to this bustling neighbourhood.

To succeed, development at the site must enhance but not overpower the nearby houses, many of which are beautiful old Victorians. And, it’s safe to say, residents in this ever more upscale area won’t take kindly to a soaring condo tower. Nor should they.

Local city councillor Mike Layton is already working on a Bathurst St. development plan, consulting residents about revitalization along the north-south route. Now that the sale of Honest Ed’s has been confirmed, it would make good sense for Layton and city planners to initiate a series of planning meetings with local people, even if it’s just to create a wish-list for change.

As Layton notes, everyone is better served if the community creates its own plan for acceptable development. That way, in theory, a future developer can — and must — incorporate local demands into its own plans.

And that’s the point. Since change is unavoidable, turn it into a city-building exercise. Already, the condos are rising across from Honest Ed’s. A nine-story “contemporary” development called B Streets is being built on Bathurst, just south of Bloor.

It’s now up to the community and the city to work out acceptable limits on height, local business development and park space on what will one day be the former Honest Ed’s site. However hard it is to imagine that famous intersection without the flashing light bulbs and bright red signs, change is coming fast.

There may be no place, anyplace, in Toronto where the opportunities for revitalization success — or failure — are so great.

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor with Century 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who are
interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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