No thanks, neighbour < Vinyl Record News | National Post

No thanks, neighbour

Downtown Yonge BIA faces resistance as it looks to expand its territory; This area is the heart of Toronto and it’s been neglected for far too long

Meghan Housley, National Post  Published: Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Roger Costa, owner of downtown's Monster Records, says joining the Yonge Street BIA won't improve the neighbourhood. Aaron Lynett, National Post Roger Costa, owner of downtown’s Monster Records, says joining the Yonge Street BIA won’t improve the neighbourhood.

The Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area, anchored by the flagship Bay store at Queen Street, stretching north past the bright billboards of Yonge-Dundas Square and all the way up to the Courtyard Marriott hotel on Alexander Street, is looking to expand its territory.

The BIA’s executive director James Robinson says they are taking the preliminary steps to maybe reach as far as Adelaide Street to the south and Charles Street to the north.

“We’re looking to reassert downtown Toronto in a much bigger way,” Mr. Robinson said.

But not everyone in the proposed expansion area wants the Yonge and Dundas treatment.

John Anderson has owned and operated Morningstar, a furniture and lifestyle store inspired by his travels to India, for the past 40 years. He says that joining up with the Downtown Yonge BIA would eliminate the small business owners.

“The downtown Yonge is a corporate downtown,” said Mr. Anderson, whose Yonge Street store is located just south of Isabella Street. “Our area is not corporate; most of the people in our area are owner-operators. They’re actually in their shops.”

According to Mr. Robinson, membership in the BIA usually ends up costing about 14.5¢ per square foot, per year. Owners such as Mr. Anderson do not want that extra expense. “If we get too big and too slick, we turn into a Gap,” Mr. Anderson said.

“We turn into Queen Street between Beverley and Spadina where there isn’t a Canadian operation on the street.”

Mr. Anderson likes the eclecticism in his neighbourhood. Walking down Yonge, pedestrians can find clothing, fine china, sports supplements and vinyl record shops all side by side.

Roger Costa owns Monster Records just north of Gloucester Street. He agrees that joining up with the Yonge BIA wouldn’t improve things.

“This area is the heart of Toronto and it’s been neglected for far too long,” Mr. Costa said.

“I don’t think those billboards at Yonge and Dundas are good for anybody. I think they really take away from the city.”

The electronic billboards at Yonge and Dundas advertise movies, airlines and cell-phones. There is even a Citytv screen playing an old episode of The O.C. It’s a far cry from Mr. Costa’s shop, with its K.I.S.S. shrine on the wall and Elvis Costello playing over the speakers. He says the small and varied businesses along this stretch is how it’s always been.

“This block is 124 years old and this is something where, if they want to spend money on this neighbourhood, the city should restore the fronts of the building to what they originally were,” he said.

“That kind of gaudy, tacky stuff going on south of me, tourists don’t seem to really find that appealing.”

Mr. Anderson wants to keep the status quo. “This is where we’ve been coming to work for the last 30 years and we like it. We know our neighbours,” he said.

“If I want to have an association meeting, I can get 30 people there, but you try to get 30 corporate stores together? Forget it. They can’t even go because they don’t have authority from head office.”

Posted via web from The LP Revival Blog

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~ by lprevival on March 17, 2010.

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