The Mink Mile. Toronto’s Rodeo Drive. These are names coined for the Yorkville area, Toronto’s most exclusive neighbourhood. It’s where the stars come out to play and the beautiful people mingle. The luxurious condos built here attract people with an eye for quality and the money to pay for it.
Here you’ll find one of North America’s most expensive retail enclaves. Bloor Street, Yorkville, Hazelton Lanes, Cumberland Terrace: this is where the well-heeled shop for swank couturier fashions, sparkling jewellery and luxury cars. It’s where the city’s elite sip cappuccino and fine wine; where they dine; where they indulge themselves at decadent spas and hair salons. It’s a place to see and be seen, the epitome of cosmopolitan living.
Yorkville is a former village, annexed by the City of Toronto. It is roughly bounded by Bloor Street to the south, Davenport Road to the north, Yonge Street to the east and Avenue Road to the west, and is considered part of the The Annex neighbourhood officially.
It is recognized as one of Canada’s most exclusive shopping districts. The local section of Bloor Street, the main shopping avenue, vies nationally with Vancouver’s Robson Street. In 2006, both were the 22nd most expensive streets in the world, with rents of $208 per square foot. Yorkville now commands rents of $300 per square foot, making it the third most expensive retail space in North America. In 2008, Bloor St. was named the seventh most expensive shopping street in the world by Fortune Magazine, claiming tenants can pull in $1,500 to $4,500 per square foot in sales.
During the Toronto International Film Festival, Yorkville becomes an excellent place for celebrity-spotting, especially in the Hazelton Lanes shopping complex. Most recently, however, the celebrities once seen during the Toronto International Film Festival have migrated elsewhere and are now most often seen in the entertainment district bars and after-hour clubs near the CITY-TV building. Yorkville still remains the top celebrity hangout in Toronto, and celebrities can be spotted there throughout the year.
Luxury hotels in Yorkville include the InterContinental Toronto Yorkville, Four Seasons, the Park Hyatt, the Hazelton Hotel, the Windsor Arms Hotel, the Residence on Bay and the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel.
There are also many offices and professional services. Notable companies/organizations include the Retail Council of Canada, Canada Post, IBM Canada, Alliance Atlantis, Famous Players, Paramount Pictures, Showcase Television, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Unilever and the consulates of several nations.
MTV Canada headquarters are located in Yorkville as well. Canada’s largest museum and the fifth largest in North America, the Royal Ontario Museum is located at the intersection of Bloor and Avenue Rd. The area north of Bloor St. on Cumberland and Yorkville contain petite streets with cafes, restaurants and specialty boutiques. It resembles more of a European style district.
Yorkville is also home to some of Toronto’s most expensive condominiums, most starting at over one million dollars and going well beyond, including: The Prince Arthur, Renaissance Plaza, 10 Bellair, One St. Thomas, Windsor Arms Hotel, The Hazelton Hotel & Residences, Hazelton Lanes.
Begun in 2008, the Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area and the City of Toronto updated the streetscape from Church Street to Avenue Road. The objective is to create an enhanced pedestrian experience with widened sidewalks, mature trees, flower gardens, modern lighting and public art.
Founded in 1830 by entrepreneur Joseph Bloore (after whom Bloor Street, one of Toronto’s main thoroughfares, is named) and William Botsford Jarvis of Rosedale, the Village of Yorkville began as a residential suburb. Bloore operated a brewery north-east of today’s Bloor and Church Street intersection. Jarvis was Sheriff of the Home District.
The two purchased land in the Yorkville district, subdividing it into smaller lots on new side streets to those interested in living in the cleaner air outside of York. The village grew enough to be connected by an omnibus service in 1849 to Toronto. By 1853, the population of the village had reached 1,000, the figure needed to incorporate as a village and the Village of Yorkville was incorporated. Development increased and by the 1870s, Potter’s Field, a cemetery stretching east of Yonge Street along the north side of Concession Road (today’s Bloor Street) was closed, and the remains moved to the Necropolis and Mount Pleasant cemetery.
By the 1880s, the cost of delivering services to the large population of Yorkville was beyond the Village’s ability. It petitioned the City of Toronto to be annexed. The character of the suburb did not change and its Victorian-style homes, quiet residential streets, and picturesque gardens survived into the 20th century. In 1923, Toronto Hebrew Maternity and Convalescent Hospital was opened at 100 Yorkville Avenue and a year later the name was changed to Mount Sinai Hospital. The facade of this building still stands today and houses retailer Teatro Verde.
In the 1960s, Yorkville flourished as Toronto’s bohemian cultural centre. It was the breeding ground for some of Canada’s most noted musical talents, including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot, as well as then-underground literary figures such as Margaret Atwood, Gwendolyn MacEwen and Dennis Lee. Yorkville was also known as the Canadian capital of the hippie movement. In 1968, nearby Rochdale College at the University of Toronto was opened on Bloor Street as an experiment in counterculture education. Those influenced by their time in 1960s-70s Yorkville include cyberpunk writer William Gibson. Its domination by hippies and young people led MPP Syl Apps to refer to it as “a festering sore in the middle of the city” and call for its “eradication.”
After the construction of the Bloor-Danforth subway the value of land nearby increased as higher densities were allowed by the City’s official plan. Along Bloor Street, office towers, the Bay department store and the Holt Renfrew department store displaced the local retail. As real estate values increased, the residential homes north of Bloor along Yorkville were converted into high-end retail, including many art galleries, fashion boutiques and antique stores, and popular bars, cafes and eateries along Cumberland Street and Yorkville Avenue. Many smaller buildings were demolished and office and hotels built in the 1970s, with high priced condominium developments being built in the last decade or so.
Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416−388−1960
Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor with Century 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who are
interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.
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