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Top four empty spaces in the Annex (and one you may have thought was empty but isn’t)

September 15th, 2011 · 10 Comments

By Julia Manoukian

287 Brunswick Ave.

287 Brunswick Ave. was once home to one of the area’s wealthiest real estate owners. Anne Racz, better known as Annie of the Annex, invested in a great deal of real estate in and around Toronto with her husband, Leslie Racz. Her entire estate, which is rumoured to be valued at $80 million, was left to her common-law partner, Rich Martyniuk, after she passed away in July 2004. Strangely, the property is listed as occupied, under Leslie Racz’s name.

The problem: while locals can only speculate why a 2,810.40 square foot prime real estate space on the corner of Brunswick and Bloor West has been vacant for so long, a title search of the property revealed it might be the tax value of $658,000. Martyniuk, who could not be contacted for comment, has no plans to sell, maintain or develop the space, according to his currents tenants at Grassroots.

Current state: looks like the grass hasn’t been cut in nearly a decade, and weathering has taken its toll on the exterior—undoubtedly a handyman’s dream.


400-408 Bloor St. W. (upper floors)

With the exception of a hair salon, the top floors, which served as office space in the `60s and small apartments in the `70s, have been empty for about 20 years, according to Amir Benedict, owner of By The Way Café.

The problem: similar to Racz’s house, Martyniuk disregards any interest in occupancy for unknown reasons. Although some locals suspect his health is to blame for the abandonment, Benedict says because the space is privately owned, “It’s not anybody’s business.”

Current state: these Old Victorian spaces need a lot of work, but are known to still contain bronze fireplaces and original architecture. While some locals complain that loose bricks pose a problem for the street below, no one has been hurt—yet.


310 Brunswick Ave.

This empty residential apartment building has been the source of much speculation, because of a prolonged vacancy for nearly 20 years. Real estate values place the whole corner at almost $10 million.

The problem: it’s always been impossible to make any sort of deal, says Bela Halasz, a Hungarian real estate agent who knew Racz in her early days. “These people are a little bit woo-hoo! If he [Rich] would sell that corner, I would have a buyer.”

Current state: the side is covered in graffiti, and a broken side-door beckons animals inside. This once handsome building is dying for a makeover.


252 Dupont St.

Both Nite-Caps by the Castle and Madoka Japanese Restaurant have occupied this address, but it has remained empty since spring 2005 and its windows are currently boarded up. The landlords reportedly want to use the 14,000 square foot property for a retail structure (for lease only), but have not been able to find a suitable tenant.

The problem: possibly the landlords asking price of $4,500 a month rent, minimum. Or according to the realtor for the property, Harvey Cooper, it could be indecision since “they’re not sure what they want to do with the site.”

Current state: it’s far from move-in ready. The new tenants will have to tear down and rebuild the entire property, including the rotted garage at the back.

420 Dupont St.

Though it may seem vacant, this large warehouse, once occupied by Mono Lino Typesetting Company Limited, is now owned by Wing’s Food Productions along with the neighbouring warehouse at 275 Albany Ave. The oriental noodle manufacturer took over shortly after Mono Lino closed its doors in 1985, due to a technology shift in the publishing industry. Even over two decades later, the famous lettering still hangs above the door.

Interesting fact: the exterior of the TV station in the film Hairspray was shot at the Mono Lino site.

Tags: Annex · News

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mark // Sep 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    400-408 Bloor West – such a shame. They’d make wonderful apartments. Did you know that Joni Mitchell used to live up there? She lived there when she had that baby she gave up for adoption.

  • 2 Editor // Sep 16, 2011 at 2:31 pm


    Very neat—where did you get that information from?

  • 3 Hannah // Nov 29, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Maybe Martyniuk won’t do anything with the properties because he is love sick.

  • 4 Dewster // Dec 27, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Hannah, is this info your thoughts or is it accurate?

  • 5 Jeanne van Houten // Sep 12, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Ohh no!! I didn’t know Annie died! I didn’t know Leslie died… Wow, Laszlo (Leslie) was old.. even when I worked for them in the late 70’s and early 80’s.. But Annie?? she was only a few years older than I am.. Wat a waste.. She was so nice! Weird maybe… but very very nice.. she had a warm heart! Will alway remember her with fondness…

  • 6 Peter // Sep 19, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    My employer once approached Wing’s about buying the site. They have zero interest in selling or developing – so get used to it being there for a while.

  • 7 Ed Cancilla // Dec 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I started work there at Mono Lino as an apprentice in 1966 until they closed their doors in 1985. A lot of good memories of mine in that building. Sad. :(

  • 8 Ed Cancilla // Dec 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I forgot to add to my comment on Mono Lino Typesetting that I shot a two hour video in the shop in 1984/85.

  • 9 Craig Carroll // Jun 6, 2013 at 10:20 am

    wow… I worked there too and do remember the inside and the people like it was yesterday.. I did an apprenticeship there and saw the writing on the wall as to desktop publishing taking over the industry. Great place great people

  • 10 6 Walmer Road // Jul 1, 2013 at 11:18 am

    6 Walmer Road is another abandoned house in the Annex – apparently the owners put in a request to demolish it and the City of Toronto recommended that the house be designated a heritage site.

    Anyone know who the owners are/why they won’t sell?