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July 21, 2010

Toronto’s longest street may soon be getting a facelift! Finally, after way too many years of stagnation and neglect. Let’s hope that the new projects will be multi-faceted and mixed use, making Yonge Street a great Toronto destination.

According to the Globe and Mail:

“Consider the signs: Four substantial high-rise projects are going up along Yonge Street between Bloor and Gerrard streets. A major commercial real-estate firm, Primaris, has bought property on both sides north of Dundas Street, although the company isn’t yet revealing its plans. And Ryerson University is moving aggressively to carve out a presence around the intersection of Yonge and Gould Street.

What’s more, a growing number of residents, businesses and local politicians are talking openly about wider sidewalks, bike lanes and reducing Yonge south of Bloor to two lanes – especially at Dundas, which has become one of Canada’s busiest pedestrian crossings.”

Check out, below, how vibrant Yonge Street was, looking north of King Street on June 5, 1901.

Why has this taken so long? “…several factors have worked against redevelopment: a large number of very small properties owned by investors reluctant to sell; the presence of the subway tunnel just east of Yonge, which limits large-scale building projects;” says Councillor Kyle Rae in the Globe, “… and the importance of heritage storefronts.”

While this sounds like amazing news, we musn’t forget that condos are not the be-all and end-all of improving the vibrancy of a neighbourhood or a street. Lets hope that they have excellent retail tenants, beautiful boulevards and streetscaping, and really end up creating a destination in the city opposed to removing the colourful character of the current Yonge Street strip, and bringing back the life from 1901.

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