Comment 79430

By Cobblestoner (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 23:24:15 in reply to Comment 79413

The vacancy rate on the north face of King from Bay to Catharine compares favourably to James North (two empty storefronts, a vacant lot and a dormant hotel vs. several empty storefronts, three or four vacant lots and a dormant theatre). There are few out-and-out crappy tenants on the Gore's north face. It's just that the stretch is very institutional, and the jobs are dominated by full-time white collar professionals. They tend not to shine in a sidewalk sale environment. It should be said that James North is rather quiet on Mon/Tues and after 6pm as well, similarly dampened by a monolithic law-and-order block. And it's prone to similar Urban Experience Engagement activity too: Open Streets, Art Crawl, Supercrawl are all staged events manufactured to varying degrees. The street's default mode is far more sedate than most once-a-month tourists grasp.

The key example of James North (at least the four blocks that get all the hurrahs) speaks to the value of a residential neighbourhood. Downtown has comparatively few residential units adjacent to the Gore: Draw a line bounding Bay/Catharine/Rebecca/Hunter -- two blocks either side of a six-block stretch of King -- and you'll find about 250 1BR+2BR residential units inside that box. Now draw a line bounding Rebecca/Park/Barton/John and add up the residents therein. It's the chicken/egg thing. You're unlikely to lose the banks from downtown, unlikely to want to lose restaurants or hotels. It's just not a strip that has pent-up self-expression or indigenous assets crying out to be repackaged in tent or food truck form. Maybe someone will open a bistro in the old Canada Trust. Maybe the Connaught's lower level will swell with buzzy boutiques. Maybe. But it'll take more than a walkable piazza and a catchy name.

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