Photo: Frank Hilzerman/Flickr
Update: Months after the publication of the article, the prices of 229 and 227 Augusta were lowered to $2,708,888 and $1,990,888 respectively.
The heated, high-profile campaigns to keep Wal-Mart and Loblaws out of Kensington Market focused on big sites and corporate names. But beyond the headline-grabbing stories of say, the El Mocambo going on the market on Spadina for about $3.95 million, smaller sites are also going up for sale in the centre of Kensington.
Currently, 229 and 227 Augusta Ave. are on the market for $2,969,800 and $2,118,800 respectively. Both properties are to be sold together. Though it might not be an iconic building, the Sunwah Fruit Market on the corner of Augusta and Baldwin is, if you can excuse the real estate cliche, at the absolute heart of the neighbourhood.
It’s kitty-corner to the Casa Acoreana coffee shop, one of a series of buildings along Baldwin that Councillor Adam Vaughan recently requested the City consider as heritage properties.
Beyond being a place for locals to stock up on produce, fruit stands such as Sunwah figure heavily into the identity of Kensington Market as a place known for its mom-and-pop shops. How many tourists have you seen snapping photos of rows of fruits and vegetables at one of Kensington’s produce places?
The corner property includes one retail store front on Augusta (the fruit market), a retail store front on Baldwin (Eurolins Inc.) and a finished basement that’s currently tenanted. The next-door site, 227 Augusta, houses the El Buen Precio grocery store and also features a tenanted basement.
The properties have been on the market for about a month and Zoltan Bartfai and Eily Liang-Bartfai, the RE/MAX realtors behind the listing, say it’s owned by a man who grew up in the market. His parents owned the property, which was once a two-storey house with a street level fabric store back when Spadina Avenue was known as the city’s garment district. Eventually the house was converted into the storefront that stands there today. The owner, now in his 60s, is retiring and selling.
Liang-Bartfai points out that though property in the neighbourhood is hot, commercial land doesn’t turn around as quickly as residential listings. The site is likely to appeal to investors who want to hold onto land for the long-term. It’s still anyone’s guess as to what might happen to the site or the current tenants under new owners.
The corner property is not the only site for sale in Kensington. One of the last area parking lots, wedged between a row of Victorian storefronts and the Royal College Medical Centre, is for sale at 291 College St., parcelled together with the land at the rear of 8 Oxford St. The 20,462 square foot site is going for $8,388,000.
The parcel is nearly the next door neighbour of 297 College St., home to The College, the condo that sparked a media frenzy after word got round a Loblaws was slated to move into the ground floor.
On the other border of the market, 181 Augusta Ave., the former home of the Hotshot Gallery and event space, is on the market for $1,595,000. The listing says the main and third floors will be vacated on closing.
Though these sites won’t be altered over night, they may very well be the next locations to see change.