Saturday, December 03, 2005

Who's Fault Is This?

Welcome to the Neighborhood
Originally uploaded by steffiejupe.
Heard a great Parkdale story last night: a guy was giving his wife grocery money in the car and got arrested since the cops thought he was a john. Great neighborhood, if you can contend with crack users at 9 in the morning. Still, some people get upset when neighborhoods go through "gentrification". What would you rather live in, a community that's rebuilding or an abandoned one like parts of Detroit with no momentum unless its crime related?

Parkdale's feeling some pressure now that the lovely little stretch of Toronto called West Queen West is seeing a rivival. Charming galleries and shops line the streets. The Drake and Gladstone Hotel (which opened last night) have tried their best too to make something that the artsy neighborhood would appreciate. But now here comes Starbucks and everyone freaks out. This picture was published in Now and eye magazines this week to further their social commentary about the nasty beast called gentrification.

Sure, there'll always be those that suffer as things change. People won't always be happy. But The Stardust Motel, which is now The Drake, did nothing to make this city sparkle, and to be honest I can't even remember what was on this corner of Dovercourt previously.

On the opposite side of the street there is now a big sign and a very unusual structure which looks like a climbing wall with mirrors, but it's actually a condo office for Westside Lofts. That should make the neighbors happy, or crazy, depending what side of the tracks they're on. A recent article in the Toronto Star featured the lofts at 48 Abell, where my boyfriend Craig used to live. Seems these lofts will be torn down since it can't be brought up to code. So these tenants, who've had great rent and some of the best true lofts in the city will now have to find a new place. I do feel for them, but they've had a great ride.

It's a fantastic new location and I couldn't help put my name "on the list" for the new condo's marketing campaign, as stupid as their message was. Go to the site for westsidelofts to see it for yourself. Girl and guy line up outside a club, but they're "not on the list". "Get yourself on the list" it says. Pretty gay, but condo advertising usually is. I didn't know much about these condos when I signed up but I heard that plans might be to build two towers, one a low income building "with a mind to the art crowd" the paper says, and one tower with "snappy condominiums [for] hipsters that can afford real estate". I think I'm out. Towers in this neighborhood are a bad idea and anyone who thinks they can market condos to wanna-be "hipsters" needs to be a bit more dialed in to this neighborhood's personality.


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Blogger Jim91 said...

Now if you want to know what its like to live like Parkdale tenants go to this association website.

Blogger Just the Goods said...

Well, that was certainly a far more eloquent response to the situation than mine ;-) *ha ha*

I don't have anything against the Drake -- the city needed something like that, but for that area of town, I like the Gladstone's approach better. I've stayed at the Drake and I've spent time at arts events there, but I take issue with the fact that it's not sustainable. It's beyond the grasp of the artists who live there and who made the area desirable in the first place, and that leaves it to the mercy of trendy hipsters who will desert it for the next new thing, whenever it arrives. As mentioned on my own blog, the hookup with 102.1 indicates their efforts to reach out to new patrons, but sadly, not ones that will help contribute to the cultural diversity and growth of the place. So, in fact, I'm less interested in the connection made between the drake and starbucks as I am in the absence of a connection made with the Gladstone.

I think the one of the most effective ways to protest a new chain being opened in town is to NOT go there. Wouldn't it be fabulous if the company spent whatever piles of money to build the location only to have to shut it down? But, at the very least the person who left her/his mark on the building has generated one hell of a discussion about community, urban planning, corporatism and culture. Whoo hooo!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Now that I have yours, I'll be sure to visit again to check up on how things are goin' in the 416 =-)

Ps. Weird coincidence alert: a friend of mine used to live at 48 Abell, as well! What a small world!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

you say gay way to fucking much missy

Blogger Kevin Steele said...

Before the Drake was the Stardust, it was the Drake, a typical rundown Parkdale hotel with beer for locals.

Starbucks is alarming to people because it is a harbinger of brands to come. Starbucks corporate spreadsheet hounds have sniffed out this location because they know thousands more people will soon be living here and they come from a world where they already buy Starbucks.

The Starbuck overdid the signage as well.

A few years back the Starbucks corporation managed to alienate some locals for good with the Starbuctuary fiasco. This was a typical story of a local hangout (Sanctuary, a goth bar) squeezed out of its lease because Starbucks wanted the location. Starbucks completely denied the strong arm tactics and blamed it all on the landlord. Six months later it was a Starbucks.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could almost take the opinions more seriously if you didn't use such grade 9 language. Or was that, like, so gay of me to say?

Blogger sookie said...

Please excuse my gay friend John anonymously ranting on this site about my inappropriate use of the word gay, I think it gets to him.


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