Is Yorkville losing its boutique flavour?

Independent shops leave to make way for luxury brands in four-storey proposal


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How the site of Summer’s Ice Cream might look if the plan goes through

A redevelopment plan for the plaza at 101 Yorkville Ave. is pushing out independent shops, such as Over the Rainbow and The Village Ink, to attract global brands, and some are concerned the area is losing its flavour.

If the proposal is approved, the building, also home to Summer’s Ice Cream, will be demolished to make way for a four-storey structure with nine commercial units, designed by Neuf architects for First Capital Realty and Greybrook Realty Partners.

Jonny Silverstein, who owns the tattoo parlour The Village Ink, said he’s making plans to relocate, but as of right now, he’s not sure where. 

“They only want high-end clothing retail [in the new development] and tattoos just don’t fit into that ... The rent is obnoxious, atrocious, and astronomical,” said Silverstein, who added that he’s already paying more than $11,000 a month, and the new rent would be even more expensive.  

Alan Baker, Greater Yorkville Residents’ Association president, said he’s watched the area change over the years, and at the moment, there’s a good mix of high-end and independent retailers that should be maintained.

“A lot of local shops are leaving because they can’t afford it, and [they’re being] replaced by the Chanels of the world, which are fine retailers. But it’s nice to have a cross-section.”

Daniel Carman, co-owner of Over the Rainbow — which has been a local landmark at 101 Yorkville Ave. since 1982 — said the store will be relocating to the Manulife Centre at Bay Street and Bloor Street, although a date has not yet been set.

“From our perspective, we felt it was important [to stay in the area] because we’ve been here for so long,” he said. “Yorkville is becoming a higher end place to shop and eat and live. I think that all the places that are opening that are new are sort of catered to [that] clientele.”

Sasha Cucuz is a partner at Greybrook Capital, one of the site’s developers. He said the focal points of the project are to maximize street-front exposure and create a space that would attract the type of luxury brands in line with the building. But they also want to use public space in a thoughtful, engaging way.

“What we want to do is create connectivity,” said Cucuz. “As it relates to Yorkville, the community as a whole, there’s not a ton of efficient and eye-catching connectivity. You can walk between some of the buildings, but it was never really well thought out, and it was never inspiring, with a community feel.”

Baker said the residents have seen the proposal, and they are happy with what’s been presented so far, in terms of height and use of laneways.

“There are some high-end retailers and more coming, but we still have a fair [amount] of local retailers and local restaurants,” said Baker. “We would like it to stay where it is and not get too high end.”

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