- Apr 30, 2007
- Reaction score
^While I don't agree with Tewder's assessment of Toronto's upscale retail market, he has made it pretty obvious that he thinks that Toronto should aim higher architecturally/aesthetically than it currently does and not use provincialism as an excuse to settle.
Yes, bang on the nose...thank you.
Have you been to Chicago, not sure I agree that they have less in the way of high end retail.
Sigh, this is not the point. Of course Chicago has more retail chains and department stores, but so do many American cities far smaller than Toronto, which is less about the vibrancy of the retail markets in those cities than about the dense domestic supply/distribution networks in place, the economies of scale on offer, and border/licensing complications that favour the proliferation and saturation of national chains across America and even in smaller markets there...
Lets look at the picture in a different way though. At a time of economic recession when many retailers in the US are closing locations and paring back expansion domestically we are seeing quite the opposite happening in Toronto which is attracting higher end American and International retailers like never before, many of whom are jostling for precious space along Bloor for flagship locations, and where those that are already there are expanding and renovating their locations. This is fairly unheard of in most markets right now where rising vacancies, falling retail rents and the closing of locations is far more the norm, and even in Chicago: http://www.careerjournal.com/article/SB123923166448402935.html?mod=article-outset-box
Toronto's retail scene has taken its hits too of course but in comparison with the rest of north america it has held its ground for most economic indicators and proven itself fairly recession-proof, for whatever complicated reasons, and this is luring international retailers here in greater numbers.... all of which is only to say that comparing the actual vibrancy and status of Bloor Street in Toront to the Mag Mile in Chicago shouldn't be that outlandish or ambitious a claim, the major difference boiling down to established reputation over time, greater promotion and grander vision which Chicago has clearly always had over Toronto.... But, wasn't this BIA initiative the perfect time and the perfect opportunity to work towards changing this, while we were already going through the upheaval of the sidewalks and construction mess and so on? Instead we played it safe and did as little as possible, justifying this timidity and mediocrity with many of the responses in this thread (we're not Chicago so why bother, hey this is good enough and better than nothing, etc etc).
Actually, given those buildings have been around for years (unlike this current round of public realm improvements), and the disproportionate impact it has on any urban design schema, I would say the lackluster architecture is more of a cause than anything else.
That was my main point of reference, the wide avenues, super wide sidewalks adorned with lots of greenery and the surrounding architecture. N. Michigan Ave. is very engaging and extremely pleasant to walk along.
I find this perspective to be defeatist. I'm not suggesting Bloor should strive to be the Magnificent Mile in a literal sense. It should strive to be the best Bloor Street it can be. The buildings aren't the problem. They actually form a fairly engaging and interesting dense retail canyon in the heart of the city, connecting Yorkville with the downtown Yonge retail strip. Private enterprise is doing its part, generally speaking, by improving their locations through expansions and renovations but many others still need to do their part (Holt's, The Bay etc). As I've already stated the pavers are beautiful and I'm hoping the rest will make a big difference but it looks like far more could have been done to truly unify and brand the area on a level with the Mag Mile (as a comparison )