After years of restoration and construction, the revitalization of Market Street has been officially recognized and commemorated with the unveiling of "Paul Oberman Walk". The only purpose-built street for patios in Toronto, the re-imagining of Market Street was the vision of Woodcliffe Landmark Properties' late founder Paul Oberman. 

The restored west side of Market Street. Image by Marcus Mitanis, 06/04/2014.The restored west side of Market Street. Image by Marcus Mitanis, 06/04/2014.

Market Street looking north from Esplanade. Image by Marcus Mitanis, 06/04/2014.Market Street looking north from The Esplanade. Image by Marcus Mitanis, 06/04/2014.

The entire block of buildings on the west side of Market Street was bought by Woodcliffe Landmark Properties with the hope of restoring the designated heritage structures and animating the street with retail, restaurants and patios. The properties were in need of repair and the area faced development pressure that would have possibly meant the end of these charming brick buildings. A vocal advocate of heritage preservation, Paul Oberman hoped to see the street become the first in Toronto to be completely closed to vehicular traffic, imitating many of the European cities in which Oberman drew inspiration from. 

Market Street as it looked in 2007. Image courtesy of Google Street View.Market Street as it looked in 2007. Image courtesy of Google Street View.

The restored 87 Front Street East. Image by Marcus Mitanis, 06/04/2014.The restored 87 Front Street East. Image by Marcus Mitanis, 06/04/2014.

The painstaking restoration of the street was designed by Taylor Smyth Architects with Goldsmith Borgal assisting with the heritage work and builder Den Bosch + Finchley executing the vision. The restoration proved to be even more difficult than thought. The previously pink and yellow building in the centre of the block, 10-12 Market, had housed the Old Fish Market restaurant. When workers began stripping the paint away, they noticed the brick was in such poor shape that they had to be turned around one at a time, with the fresh untouched brick now facing the street. Nearly everything in the restored buildings, from the electrical to the sewers, are new except for the facades and walls. Robert Barber of Den Bosch + Finchley recalled that "the vision was very strong from the beginning. It was very ambitious, but Paul had the tenacity to maintain the vision, at all costs. I think he would be very proud of where we got his vision to." 

Market Street is launched to the public. Image by Jack Landau, 06/04/2014.Market Street is officially launched to the public. Image by Jack Landau, 06/04/2014.

In addition to the restoration of the historic properties, the north-west corner of Market Street and The Esplanade has been redeveloped from an auto repair shop to a modern building also designed by Taylor Smyth Architects. The new 5,000 square foot structure is occupied by the Italian restaurant Pastizza, book-ending the LCBO at the restored historic property on the corner of Market and Front Streets. The main floor of the LCBO on Front Street also extends through the length of the second floors of the historic buildings on Market Street, leading to a loading dock on The Esplanade that is connected to a service corridor.

Coined "The Tastes of Market Street" for the ceremony, Paul Oberman's Walk includes a variety of dining options from Bindia Indian Bistro to Olive and Olives. Other vendors along the street are Balzac's Coffee Roasters, the Spanish Tapas restaurant Barsa Taberna, the healthy fast food eatery Evolution Foods Co. and the seafood restaurant Market Street Catch. 

Former Mayor of Toronto David Crombie speaks. Image by Jack Landau, 06/04/2014.Former Mayor of Toronto David Crombie speaks. Image by Jack Landau, 06/04/2014.

Eve Lewis of Woodcliffe Properties speaks. Image by Jack Landau, 06/04/2014.CEO of Woodcliffe Landmark Properties, Eve Lewis, recalls Paul Oberman's vision. Image by Jack Landau, 06/04/2014.

After Oberman's passing in 2011, his wife and CEO of Woodcliffe Landmark Properties, Eve Lewis, oversaw the redevelopment to continue his vision. The project is the first in Toronto history to include a privately financed sidewalk expansion, which is seamlessly connected to the street. Although Woodcliffe had hoped to see the street become fully pedestrianized, the City has allowed vehicles and on-street parking. While parking is only permitted in the summer on the east side of the street to allow patios to be fully enjoyed, both sides will be open to parking in the winter months. “It was Paul’s wish that they would close it for the nicest part of the year," Eve Lewis states. "It’s going to be a process like everything else. But there are a lot of people that want it to happen." The City is currently restoring the east side of Market Street, which forms the west entrance of St. Lawrence Market, with the hopes it will be completed in time for the Pan Am Games. 

Sign marking Paul Oberman's Walk is unveiled. Image by Jack Landau, 06/04/2014.The plaque commemorating Paul Oberman's Walk is unveiled. Image by Jack Landau, 06/04/2014.

The plaque commemorating Paul Oberman's Walk. Image by Jack Landau, 06/04/2014.The plaque commemorating Paul Oberman's Walk. Image by Jack Landau, 06/04/2014.

To view even more photos of Market Street, visit the Projects and Construction forum linked below. 

Were you aware of the Market Street restoration? Are you pleased with the end result? Leave a comment below to let us know.