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NEWS (MAY 2017): Development dominates discussion

May 26th, 2017 · Comments Off on NEWS (MAY 2017): Development dominates discussion

ARA holds annual general meeting

By Geremy Bordonaro

Development dominated the Annex Residents’ Association (ARA) annual general meeting on April 27.

The area has seen an increase in developments over the last few years, most notably the Westbank Projects Corp.’s Mirvish Village development, and that coloured every topic of discussion, from bike lanes to community housing.

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Tags: Annex · News

EDITORIAL (APRIL 2017): Westbank’s positive precedent

April 10th, 2017 · 1 Comment

The Toronto and East York Community Council unanimously endorsed a planning staff recommendation to approve Westbank Projects Corp.’s application to redevelop the southwest corner of Bloor and Bathurst streets on April 4. It’s a significant milestone that comes after three years of community consultations and collaborative work between the Vancouver-based developer, planning staff, and community representatives.

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Tags: Annex · Editorial

NEWS (MARCH 2017): Westbank presents latest proposal

March 22nd, 2017 · Comments Off on NEWS (MARCH 2017): Westbank presents latest proposal

Community, city closer to approving Mirvish Village development

PHOTO COURTESY WESTBANK PROJECTS CORP.

By Geremy Bordonaro

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Tags: Annex · News

FORUM (MARCH 2017): Build a neighbourhood

March 22nd, 2017 · Comments Off on FORUM (MARCH 2017): Build a neighbourhood

Not just buildings

By Joe Cressy

If you’ve ever made your way to a development meeting in Ward 20, you’ve heard me talk about the need to build community as we grow and change. With almost one quarter of all proposed development in the entire city occurring in our ward, we’d be leading ourselves astray without this focus. This has been my primary focus in the review of the Mirvish Village redevelopment proposal, which continues to evolve after three iterations.

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Tags: Annex · Columns

NEWS (FEBRUARY 2017): One last hurrah

March 5th, 2017 · Comments Off on NEWS (FEBRUARY 2017): One last hurrah

Toronto for Everyone celebrates Honest Ed’s

By Geremy Bordonaro

For 68 years, Honest Ed’s welcomed all those who came to its doors. While the store made its last sale on the final day of 2016, it will play host to a grand wake before it closes its doors one last time. And organizers hope the celebration will be a tribute to the spirit of inclusivity that they say was a hallmark of the discount emporium.

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Tags: Annex · News

NEW IN BUSINESS (JANUARY 2017): Strictly local

January 23rd, 2017 · Comments Off on NEW IN BUSINESS (JANUARY 2017): Strictly local

Craft beer pint of choice

PHOTO BY GEREMY BORDONARO/GLEANER NEWS: Fans of the Victory Café, which will soon close to make way for the Mirvish Village development, need not despair. Owner Nick Ndreka has opened the Crafty Coyote on Bloor Street West. The bar boasts the same selection of craft beer and rustic atmosphere, and emphasizes its location with a sign emblazoned with the words The Annex.

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Tags: Annex · News

CHATTER (DECEMBER 2016): Bloor Annex BIA showcases street greening plans

December 20th, 2016 · Comments Off on CHATTER (DECEMBER 2016): Bloor Annex BIA showcases street greening plans

On Nov. 25 the Bloor Annex Business Improvement Area (whose chair also publishes this newspaper) showcased its street revitalization plans at Markham House in Mirvish Village. The plans — expected to be implemented in 2018 — include converting public rights-of-way along Bloor Street into parkettes and a renewed tree inventory on the north side of the street.

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Tags: Annex · News

CHATTER (DECEMBER 2016): Beguiling to enchant Kensington Market

December 20th, 2016 · Comments Off on CHATTER (DECEMBER 2016): Beguiling to enchant Kensington Market

Mirvish Village’s internationally-known comics and graphic novel retailer The Beguiling has already begun moving to its new location at 319 College St. Its sister store, Little Island Comics on Bathurst Street, will be closed. The store’s Peter Birkemoe says he expects to open the new location just before Christmas, and be fully operational by January.

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Tags: Annex · News

NEWS (JUNE 2016): Westbank submits revised application

June 14th, 2016 · Comments Off on NEWS (JUNE 2016): Westbank submits revised application

Community meeting scheduled for June 13

PHOTO COURTESY?WESTBANK?PROJECTS CORP./Henriquez Partners Architects: A new on-site park is part of Westbank’s revised rezoning application. Still at the conceptual stage, it will include a dog run, water feature, and urban agriculture.

PHOTO COURTESY WESTBANK PROJECTS CORP./Henriquez Partners Architects: A new on-site park is part of Westbank’s revised rezoning application. Still at the conceptual stage, it will include a dog run, water feature, and urban agriculture.

By Annemarie Brissenden

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Tags: Annex · News

ARTS: Discover Mirvish Village’s artistic diversity

April 7th, 2016 · Comments Off on ARTS: Discover Mirvish Village’s artistic diversity

Galleries & Studios Hop returns to Markham Street April 23 and 24

 

Landscape artist Jill Boschulte, who works from small planes, creates monoprints, water-coloured pencil drawings, and collages. Her Furrows (above) will feature at Art Zone during the Hop. COURTESY?ART?ZONE

Landscape artist Jill Boschulte, who works from small planes, creates monoprints, water-coloured pencil drawings, and collages. Her Furrows (above) will feature at Art Zone during the Hop.
COURTESY ART ZONE

By Annemarie Brissenden

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Tags: Annex · Arts

DEVELOPINGS: Annual review reflects tension between community activism and OMB

March 9th, 2016 · Comments Off on DEVELOPINGS: Annual review reflects tension between community activism and OMB

Our third survey of development projects in our coverage area highlights projects that interest us, trends that appall us, and elements that enthrall us. We favour innovative projects that connect with a neighbourhood’s built form, reflect community consultation, and meet the objectives of the City of Toronto’s Official Plan. We take a dim view of developers that do an end run around the process and appeal directly to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), which demonstrates little respect for the city’s urban planning guidelines. And, we — once again — make an argument for razing the OMB. Please click on the image below to enlarge.

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Tags: Annex · News · Columns

Westbank solicits ideas for Ed’s site

May 27th, 2014 · Comments Off on Westbank solicits ideas for Ed’s site

Mirvish Villagers stress link between affordability and character
By Annemarie Brissenden
Mirvish Villagers accustomed to battling real estate developers greeted an unexpected overture from Westbank Projects Corp. on April 30 at the Randolph Academy with polite skepticism. It was one of a series of introductory meetings hosted by the company, which last fall purchased a 3.47-acre site that includes Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village.
“We do things differently,” said Ian Duke of Westbank to the approximately 60 people in attendance. “We don’t see ourselves as a developer, we see ourselves as city builders.”
Duke explained that Westbank currently doesn’t have a plan for the site, and hasn’t even hired an architecture firm. The sole dictate at this point is that the future site will be a mixed-use development of some sort, and it is unlikely that it would be a hotel.
Westbank’s goal for the meeting, then, was to introduce its representatives to the community and gain an understanding of what makes Mirvish Village special to those who live and work in the area.
Duke opened the discussion by presenting Westbank’s guiding ideas for creating what it terms a “community vision” for the site. The nine points included mixed use, sharing economy (for example, co-op daycare, car share, farmers’ market), heritage, community space, and urban mobility.
In response, those attending the meeting asked practical questions, suggested some guiding principles of their own, and shared their misgivings about developers in general.
On the practical side, business owners wanted to know when work would begin on the project (not until 2017 at the earliest) and how long it would take to complete (as long as two to three years).
With regard to suggested guiding principles, chief among them was affordability.
One speaker said “low rents provide an opportunity for certain kinds of businesses and artists [to] exist here.”
Another speaker related that Mirvish Village was thought to be the legacy of Ed Mirvish’s wife, Anne Mirvish, who had wanted to create a space for artists.
“Rent control is a boon to us. Moving 100 metres—rent would be four times what we pay,” added a third.
Duke admitted that affordability is “going to be one of our biggest challenges. We’ll obviously need to apply a lot of creativity to that.”
The participants kept returning to affordability, arguing that it is inextricably linked to something else they hold dear: Mirvish Village’s heritage and character.
“People come here because it’s not the same, because it’s different,” said one business owner.
“That will be a yardstick we apply to the final project,” answered Duke.
While the participants were cautiously optimistic about Westbank’s approach, they did express some cynicism about developers in general.
As one speaker commented, “It may not be like this in Vancouver, but in Toronto, developers don’t have a good reputation,” adding, “To what degree are you going to deliver on this excellent list?”
“We want to find out what things really hit the mark with people. What are must-haves, what resonates, what doesn’t,” said Duke. “One hundred people will have 100 different ideas. We want to distill a hierarchy of what’s important to get out of the process.”
“Just know that a lot of people will be watching that list,” responded a participant.
In addition to the Randolph Academy meeting, Westbank’s representatives met with four business improvement associations (BIAs) and four residents’ associations. The groups they spoke to included the Bloor-Annex BIA, the Harbord Street BIA, and the Palmerston Area and Seaton Village residents’ associations. It also held a similar introductory session with 45 members of the Centre for Social Innovation Annex on Bathurst Street, and is exploring how best to communicate with local residents and business owners, be it through a project website, twitter, or even a community kiosk.
Duke said Westbank anticipates presenting the results of these meetings at an open house in June, when there will be another opportunity to discuss the guiding ideas and get input from the community. He expects the company to hire an architectural firm in late summer or early fall and to present the first iteration of the plan for the area in December or January.
But he stresses that the timeline is a preliminary one, and Westbank could easily fall behind.
“We would rather do things right than quickly,” Duke said.

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Tags: Annex · News · General

Scott Pilgrim vs. The Annex

August 12th, 2010 · 3 Comments

The popular graphic novels make use of many Annex locations. Image courtesy Oni Press.

By Tim Legault

As Bryan Lee O’Malley, creator of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels, sat signing a stack of his sixth and final volume in the series (Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour) in preparation for the book’s launch party, he recalled Publishers Weekly’s review of his first volume six years ago.

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Tags: Arts · General