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The decay of downtown Queen Street East

jozl

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Downtown Queen Street East, between Church and Parliament Streets, has long been a decaying dead zone. There is no development taking place there now and nothing new planned. It's always seemed odd to me that this huge parcel of land, right downtown, sits idle while the rest of the city is bursting with activity. The north side of the street is deadened by a huge ugly parking lot at Queen E and Mutual Street. Queen E and Jarvis are swallowed up by the armoury and adjacent desolate park (used as a staging area for the military). Empty space occupies the area south of the John Innes Rec Centre and the huge Maxwell Meighen men's shelter occupies the east side of that intersection. Continuing east along Queen Street on the north side there are a handful of heritage buildings that are literally crumbling apart and several more homeless shelters sitting between huge expanses of open unused land surrounding Moss Park, an ugly 60's style housing project. There are very few buildings on the north side available to repurpose like those on streets such as Dundas West and Ossington Ave. The south side of Queen East is lined with undeveloped one and two story building of various vintages with no coherent theme or purpose. There is another homeless shelter on the south east corner of Queen E and Jarvis. The entire area is an economic dead zone. So, what's to be done? Queen E has become a barrier that has halted northward development on streets south of Queen. Is City Council just planning to let the whole area rot? Developers will not touch this part of downtown unless major improvements are made. Perhaps getting the feds to move the armoury and the city to rethink, improve and move the plethora of homeless shelters will act as a catalyst for development. This section of Queen East is a blight and really needs to be addressed.
 

balenciaga

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Sometimes I wonder which is worse - Queen East or Dundas East?

You are right that this dead zone has prevented the development of the area south of Richmond from extending north.

The parking lot at Mutual st and the SW corner of Queen/Jarvis/Richmond (currently some dilapidated auto centre) can serve as the best catalysts for development.
http://goo.gl/maps/LJCDz

Additionally a few pawn shops have recently closed near Church. These shacks are outright ugly and hopefully can be demolished and replaced by something useful. I hope it is not another Tim Hortons or Shawarma place.

The row houses on the south side of Queen between Mutual and Jarvis are actually beautiful and in good shape. We just don't know what they are, except for George Restaurant. It is the north side that is of primary concern.

And you are so right about Moss Park. It doesn't seem to serve any purpose as it is supposed to. Just a deserted parkland for the homeless to loiter...
 

jozl

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Dundas East is just as bad, you're right about that. The difference between Dundas E and Queen E is that there are fewer entrenched barriers to development on Dundas. Dundas Square might also act as a catalyst for eastward development. Queen E is hobbled by too many impediments to get any significant momentum. It needs help.
 

taal

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I wouldn't call it decay in the sense its been like this for many many years.

Dundas east is so much better around the improved regent park area, but further west not so much. I think Regent park may a be a catalyst that'll slowly spread development (though from east to west).

Queen, well I think we'll see developments around Church soon (There is already the Colburne development a little south on Church), but further east of Church ... as mentioned above there are a lot of other factors there that will be hard to find easy answers for ... homeless shelters, a large concentration, is among the reasons.

Now that large parking lot, its just east of Church, I think we may see that go sooner then later, there are already plans (though they've been in the works for a while so who knows the status), but further east ... hard to see it improving for a while.


Now interestingly think of Quene E past the DVP ... lots of gentrification has taken place there already (mind you most of this, in Leslieville, so a bit east of just the DVP) ... and the beach area and further east on Queen, were always fairly high end.

There's basically a band in Toronto, a little south of Queen up to a little south of Carlton, from Church and to the east to various areas (a bit past of the DVP around Queen) not as far east higher North ... that's seen little development.

Interestingly the west is very different, though Dundas west of Spadina hasn't seen to much further action.
 

balenciaga

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I wouldn't call it decay in the sense its been like this for many many years.

Dundas east is so much better around the improved regent park area, but further west not so much. I think Regent park may a be a catalyst that'll slowly spread development (though from east to west).

Queen, well I think we'll see developments around Church soon (There is already the Colburne development a little south on Church), but further east of Church ... as mentioned above there are a lot of other factors there that will be hard to find easy answers for ... homeless shelters, a large concentration, is among the reasons.
Church/Colburn doesn't count as it is south of Richmond, which is a completely different neighbourhood. What OP worries about is everything stops at Richmond. DT east side south of Richmond is in good shape, particularly on King East.

Now that large parking lot, its just east of Church, I think we may see that go sooner then later, there are already plans (though they've been in the works for a while so who knows the status), but further east ... hard to see it improving for a while.
People have been saying sooner or later for more than 10 years I guess yet the area seems to be stuck in 1980.


Now interestingly think of Quene E past the DVP ... lots of gentrification has taken place there already (mind you most of this, in Leslieville, so a bit east of just the DVP) ... and the beach area and further east on Queen, were always fairly high end.
Queen E east of DVP is already pretty suburban. Quite different from the Church to Parliament section, which is right downtown.

There's basically a band in Toronto, a little south of Queen up to a little south of Carlton, from Church and to the east to various areas (a bit past of the DVP around Queen) not as far east higher North ... that's seen little development.
You are exactly right. This band seems to be a zone nobody cares about, which is so wrong.

Interestingly the west is very different, though Dundas west of Spadina hasn't seen to much further action.
Quite right. I would say 80% of the development has been on the west side.
Yonge St used to be the center of the city, now even University looks like to the east of the center.
 

taal

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King E cannot even be mentioned in any talk of "decay" ! :) .. in my opinion King east has one of the best built forms in all of Toronto, one of the most "complete streets in Toronto" if that makes sense ! I think its not on everyone's radar due to the retail mix / predominantly interior design stores of various forms. The condo developments in this are (some of the first in the recent condo boom, of the last 10/15 years) really fit into the area greatly.

I digress.

Why would you call Queen E of the DVP suburban though, I don't really see that, there are new condo developments just east of the DVP. But both west and east its quite residential anyway off the main street (to the north at least). Though there are quite a few offices in converted buildings on Queen west of the DVP, so that does make it feel a bit more urban.

You're right the area in question it is forgotten, not sure that's the best word to used, ignored from a development point of view maybe.


Consider that regent park makes up a big portion of the "decay" in this area ... and that's being completely transformed, with all signs positive so far.


Anyway I think this area will be stagnate for the next decade or so ... less Regent Park ... my dream is Queen, just east of Church sees some development.


Actually first on my list are all the lots around Church, not all of these are in the area we're describing, but I'd love to see them filled, then Jarvis it self cleaned up (with more developments directly on the street) and then we can focus on Queen east of the DVP.
 

balenciaga

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^ hi Taal, I didn't say King E is in decay. I actually said dt east south of Richmond is in good shape, particularly King East.
If Queen East looks and functions half as well as King E, I will be exhilarated. I think the portion west of Jarvis is still a bit distance from where the shelters are congregated and there is no reason this area can't receive some attention.
 

taal

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^ hi Taal, I didn't say King E is in decay. I actually said dt east south of Richmond is in good shape, particularly King East.
If Queen East looks and functions half as well as King E, I will be exhilarated. I think the portion west of Jarvis is still a bit distance from where the shelters are congregated and there is no reason this area can't receive some attention.
True the shelters are closer to the DVP (on either side if I recall) !
 

3Dementia

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Perhaps a signature project with the potential to dramatically alter the public realm and accelerate change in the entire neighbourhood may move from vision to reality next year. Sometimes crazy dreamers aren't so crazy. Hard work and fingers and toes crossed.
 

UserNameToronto

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A public square on at least part of the parking lot site would be amazing as part of a larger revitalization effort for the area.
I'm sceptical - a lot of the public spaces in the Downtown East seem to be taken over by a certain "demographic". Witness Moss Park, Allen Gardens, the Metropolitan Church grounds at Queen & Church, and the South Cabbagetown parkettes. The only public spaces that really function properly are in areas which are tightly controlled and/or have already fully gentrified (Distillery District, Riverdale Park in Cabbagetown proper).
 
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balenciaga

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I'm sceptical - a lot of the public spaces in the Downtown East seem to be taken over by a certain "demographic". Witness Moss Park, Allen Gardens, the Metropolitan Church grounds at Queen & Church, and the South Cabbagetown parkettes. The only public spaces that really function properly are in areas which are tightly controlled and/or have already fully gentrified (Distillery District, Riverdale Park in Cabbagetown proper).
I totally agree. Public square itself may not achieve this goal and may induce more loitering of the homeless.

The problem now is that regular people usually don't go to dt east side. They cringe at the idea of crossing Yonge St, and in order to make them go there, you have to offer something. My suggestion would be some middle price range retail, such as a department store (Target, Nordstrom etc), some cafes and small restaurants, along with a decent public square with benches, fountains and trees. If a department store is not impossible, a large urban grocery store may do wonders as well as there is hardly any nearby. The closest is a Metro north of Dundas East. The land is sufficiently large. and then maybe a couple of new condo towers in the vicinity.

A green space won't be enough. People won't go there just to hang out on a large grass land. It is the sort of thing that make an attractive place even more attractive instead of making an undesirable spot suddenly a magnet. Metropolitan Church ground/Allen Garden are perfect examples. They are both very nice parks yet look at how they are used.
 

Silence&Motion

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Oh god. It's another "lets figure out a way to displace more poor people from downtown so that we can build yet another neighbourhood filled with tacky condos and David's Tea locations" thread.
 

Dilla

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Oh god. It's another "lets figure out a way to displace more poor people from downtown so that we can build yet another neighbourhood filled with tacky condos and David's Tea locations" thread.
Yeah, imagine the gall it takes to want add some civic improvements to a completely desolate and depressed area. Damn yuppies.

A condo is going up on the south side of Queen, a bit east of Sherbourne. There was a small antiques business shut down and the building demolished, just west of Ontario and Queen. I'm not sure what the plans are.
Also, there appears to be at least one art gallery opening on the North side of Queen just east of Sherbourne, just past he new "Wind" location. Oh, and the Fried Chicken place on the corner closed down yesterday, it's being gutted.

Oh, and there's a new rental building half way up on Berkley, just behind the Berkley Street Church.
 
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junctionist

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A square won't revitalize the area, which is why I said "as part of a larger revitalization effort". But it would a great place for a square as part of a revitalized area. Parks and squares can be great places even in areas that aren't gentrified like Bellevue Square (the park in Kensington Market) and Dufferin Grove Park. What this area is missing for a successful public space is not necessarily wealthy people, but a large amount of people at different times of the day carrying out ordinary activities like shopping, and going to restaurants and bars. Hence, it needs revitalization, not necessarily gentrification.

I wouldn't want to see a park here because Toronto is rather lacking in public squares--especially squares that commemorate history--and is well endowed with parks, though the square could have lush landscaping around its granite surfaces. There's also the green space in front of the Metropolitan United Church and Moss Park in the area. So a square would be the type of public space of choice as part of a larger revitalization project for the area.
 
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