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John Street Revitalization

AlvinofDiaspar

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From the Globe:

Extreme makeover for John St.
Tenille Bonoguore
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail, Tuesday, Jun. 16, 2009 07:09AM EDT

The ugly duckling of Toronto's Entertainment District is poised to become a swan.

Under a massive makeover plan to be launched Tuesday by the local Business Improvement Area, John Street would be turned into a promenade linking five of six planned “character precincts†and creating a new north-south spine for a neighbourhood that is best known today for its rowdy Richmond Street club zone.

“A much more mature and sophisticated neighbourhood is evolving,†said Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina). “This reprograms the neighbourhood to operate differently. … It's got sort of an old-town feel to it.â€

The revival of John Street is part of a district renewal plan that promotes tree-lined avenues, shopping mews, widened sidewalks and a public park at Metro Square to rival Bryant Park in New York.

In Jenny Luong's opinion, anything would be an improvement on the gritty, treeless, vomit-stained street that is home to her hair salon, Salonhaus.

“If you put more trees, more people will come up here. It will bring the area up,†she said of John Street, north of Queen West. “When it looks better, it makes people more excited to come. Like Quebec, you feel really cute and safe.â€

Sweeping from its base at the CN Tower up to the grounds of the Ontario College of Art and Design, John Street is a largely utilitarian stretch of broken pavement, parking lots, chain restaurants and media company headquarters.

The master plan would make fixing up John Street the key public priority for the Entertainment District, whose approximate boundaries are the waterfront to the south, Spadina Avenue to the west, Queen Street to the north and the financial district to the east.

“The promenade has the potential to make the greatest and most profound positive impact for the area,†reads the master plan, to be launched outside Metro Hall Tuesday morning.

With a narrowed roadway and widened sidewalks, the street would be full of public art, and easily closed to vehicles for special events and festivals.

Reba Plummer, from Urbane Cyclist at the north end of John Street, was quick to fend off any suggestion that such a move would exacerbate Toronto's “war on the car.â€

“It can't be bikes versus cars versus pedestrians versus transit,†Ms. Plummer said. “All of those components have to be in together. It would be great.â€

To the east, the master plan features a redesign of Roy Thomson Hall that would extend the reflecting pool and turn it into a skating rink during winter, and include an outdoor amphitheatre.

The north end's brick-and-beam buildings would be protected to form a Warehouse Precinct, while historic thoroughfares like Queen West would remain low-rise in order to protect their “main street charm,†the plan states.

It took 10 months for the Master Plan Advisory Committee – chaired by Allied Properties CEO Michael Emory – to create the 72-page proposal, drawing on information and opinions offered during stakeholder focus groups, Web surveys and a “visioning workshop.â€

While there's no timeline attached to making the glossy plan a reality, Entertainment District BIA executive director Janice Solomon said its release provides a shared vision toward which council, developers and businesses can now work.

“It really is a long-term strategy,†Ms. Solomon said. “Patience is a virtue, because now I think we're going to get it right.â€

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/extreme-makeover-for-john-st/article1183239/

AoD
 

PukeGreen

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Sounds fantastic! I can't wait until 2019, when a watered-down over compromised mediocre variation of this plan finally lurches to completion.

Sorry, in a pessimistic mood today. Trying to think back to the late 90s when I first heard plans about some thing called "Dundas Square" and I thought to myself, "It'll never happen".
 

unimaginative2

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This is bizarre. They seem to be describing a completely different street from the one I walk down. John doesn't even seem to have the kinds of clubs that attract young people that Adam Vaughan so despises, other than Circa. Maybe that's what this is all about after all. I always think of John as one of the greener streets. That area around the Milestones and Montana's has lots of greenery. I wouldn't complain if they filled in some of the gaps or planted some trees, but it's pretty clear that the priorities lie in kicking out any kind of nightlife and turning the neighbourhood into a vertical suburb.
 

W. K. Lis

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Too bad they couldn't add streetcar tracks to run from Spadina along Adelaide, Duncan, and return on Richmond. Or turn run the tracks two-ways along Adelaide to loop downtown. The Spadina streetcar currently short-turns at Adelaide, but just goes around the block to King on its return loop.
 

smuncky

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This is bizarre. They seem to be describing a completely different street from the one I walk down. John doesn't even seem to have the kinds of clubs that attract young people that Adam Vaughan so despises, other than Circa. Maybe that's what this is all about after all. I always think of John as one of the greener streets. That area around the Milestones and Montana's has lots of greenery. I wouldn't complain if they filled in some of the gaps or planted some trees, but it's pretty clear that the priorities lie in kicking out any kind of nightlife and turning the neighbourhood into a vertical suburb.

agreed. it sounded more like they were talking about peter street.
 

Urban Shocker

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I like the idea of expanding Roy Thomson's sunken garden and opening it to the public as a skating rink in the winter - especially since the lower level isn't even open to TSO ticketholders on concert nights in the good weather as things presently stand.
 

FutureMayor

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I encourage people to pause and take some time to actually read the plan before jumping into wild conclusions:

http://www.torontoentertainmentdistrict.ca/images/BIA_MstrPlan.pdf

It was developed and driven by the business owners themselves with the support of the city.

One striking proposal is for a new plaza and gateway at the bottom of John by expanding the deck over the railway.

The only thing that bothers me about the plan is this vision to create this "old-town" feel as the Councillor describes it. *gag*

Its the entertainment district not the distillery district.

Louroz
 

Whoaccio

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The only thing that bothers me about the plan is this vision to create this "old-town" feel as the Councillor describes it. *gag*

I'm inclined to agree. While I'm not very comfortable judging one way or another based off of render porn, I don't get this perpetual obsession with making ersatz "old towns." Its almost like nobody noticed that this isn't really the 19th century. I think it was in the Globe article describing how they struggled to make sure Queen St. would retain it's 'main st' feeling. Who wouldn't want their ostensibly world class retail strip to look like something out of Peterborough.
 

yyzhyd

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i'm inclined to agree. While i'm not very comfortable judging one way or another based off of render porn, i don't get this perpetual obsession with making ersatz "old towns." its almost like nobody noticed that this isn't really the 19th century. I think it was in the globe article describing how they struggled to make sure queen st. Would retain it's 'main st' feeling. Who wouldn't want their ostensibly world class retail strip to look like something out of peterborough.

lmfao!!! :d
 

MisterF

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I'm inclined to agree. While I'm not very comfortable judging one way or another based off of render porn, I don't get this perpetual obsession with making ersatz "old towns." Its almost like nobody noticed that this isn't really the 19th century. I think it was in the Globe article describing how they struggled to make sure Queen St. would retain it's 'main st' feeling. Who wouldn't want their ostensibly world class retail strip to look like something out of Peterborough.
Well you could do a lot worse than Peterborough. It's usually the other way around - trendy main streets in small town and cities are often compared to Queen West. In Huntsville there's a store called "Queen Street North". Kind of clever in a Be Sharps kind of way.

I encourage people to pause and take some time to actually read the plan before jumping into wild conclusions:

http://www.torontoentertainmentdistrict.ca/images/BIA_MstrPlan.pdf

It was developed and driven by the business owners themselves with the support of the city.

One striking proposal is for a new plaza and gateway at the bottom of John by expanding the deck over the railway.

The only thing that bothers me about the plan is this vision to create this "old-town" feel as the Councillor describes it. *gag*

Its the entertainment district not the distillery district.

Louroz
Keep in mind that they divide the district into distinct areas, each with its own identity. In the Warehouse Precinct an "old town" kind of feel makes sense. On Bremner Blvd, not so much.
 

FutureMayor

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I don't believe we should be recreating an old town feel in the "warehouse" precinct either. It is totally out of character for the areas current and future purpose.

If anything, I'm in favor of creating one unified look for the entire district.

Louroz
 

gei

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I don't really trust anything Adam Vaughn is a part of. His ultimate goal is just to try and take all the fun out of the entertainment district. He is a real-life version of the grinch who stole Christmas.

I can't wait to get him off of council...
 

Hipster Duck

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Adam Vaughan sure likes to meddle and play social engineer, but a ye olde streetscape does not exactly seem like his weapon of choice.
 

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