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Historic Dineen Building undergoes major facelift

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / April 4, 2013

Dineen Building TorontoThe majestic Dineen Building at Yonge and Temperance is experiencing a rebirth in the form of an influx of new tenants, the most special of which might be us (kidding, kidding...we moved our office space here in January). Built in 1897, 140 Yonge / 2 Temperance once housed W. and F. Dineen Co., a producer of hats and furs. The last 116 years have seen the building go through a series of metamorphoses.

Dineen BuildingIn the 1990s, Dineen was home base to what legend has it was a formidable gang of bicycle messengers. Allegedly, they used to stand outside and smoke doobs. Before its restoration, Dineen was a bit of a mess. It was home to squatters and in relative disrepair, with mattresses on the floor and plaster peeling from the walls.

Dineen BuildingNow, the building will continue to wear many hats. An over-arching redevelopment is lifting the building out of its disparaged state and into a workspace/gastro destination. And, in the hands of heritage-friendly developer Clayton Smith, the property's historical integrity will be maintained. Essentially, the list of new tenants means we at blogTO will never have to leave the office.

And the building's new tenants are:

The Chase
The Chase restaurant will be perched on top of the building, which will make for great views of downtown from their rooftop patio. The building's elevators will deliver patrons straight into the restaurant from the bottom floors. The fifth floor location will have a focus on wines, and, like their fish and oyster counterpart, they plan to open by June, just in time for patio season.

The Chase Fish & Oyster
The Chase Fish & Oyster bar is a separate entity from The Chase, though the two are run by the same people (Steven Salm and Michael Steh) and will share a theme in a sense, they will have separate kitchens. The fish and oyster location will have a south-facing patio on Temperance, as well.

Dineen Coffee
The construction of this new coffee shop, which will face Yonge St., is already well underway. In fact, they plan to open by May 1st. The Dineen location will be the first of a series of shops under the same ownership. And, according to those in the know, the coffee shop will boast "the most expensive coffee machine you can buy." I'm skeptical, of course, but this is all the more reason to pop in and judge for myself.

Fiore was created by Sam Fiore, who is also the executive chef at One King West and an incredibly nice guy. Fiore opened his first-floor restaurant before the redevelopment began, and he just re-opened last month. For him, the charm of the area was a major draw.

"It's a mix of corporate culture, but then you have a building like Dineen, which I would classify as old Toronto, or even as a quaint Old Quebec feel." Fiore is looking to cater to those who work in the area, serving creative but speedy sandwiches and pasta (and drinks) to the lunch and post-work crowd.

iQ office suitesiQ Office suites
iQ Office provides a shared workspace for creative types, IT people, and a fascinating rainbow of others. There are private offices and dedicated desks available across three floors. This is where we're currently located and we love it. We have a nice fully enclosed, sound-proof space with modern desks and chairs and we share kitchen, reception, boardroom, showers, bike-lockers and a kick-ass lounge with fellow IQ office tenants.

Temperance StreetWhat's next for Temperance?

The Dineen building isn't the only aspect of the street that's changing. People in hardhats and various giant yellow machines are common sights in the area. It seems there's always room for more development, and right across the street there's the constant construction of Bay Adelaide Centre East. In Fiore's view, of course, it's the more, the merrier. He likes the vibrant mix of old and new, and he feels Temperance St. will only get better with time.

"It's corporate, but it's also old, and very quaint, with the patios and food and beverages." He says the history 2 Temperance holds keeps things in balance, in a sense.

"I'm really in love with the building, which is why I chose to re-open here."



Rob / April 4, 2013 at 02:30 pm
Beautiful restoration. Now if the rub and tug next door could just relocate...
Porcelain replying to a comment from Rob / April 4, 2013 at 03:18 pm
That would be a happy ending indeed.
McRib / April 4, 2013 at 03:58 pm
looks great! more of this please.
iSkyscraper / April 4, 2013 at 04:19 pm
Wow, best story I've read about Toronto all week. Good one.
Aaron / April 4, 2013 at 04:36 pm
This was looking great until the unfortunate roof feature was added. Now it looks like an 80's reno.
RLW / April 4, 2013 at 04:36 pm
Meanwhile across the street...

So apparently as part of the Bay Adelaide Centre plan, they're taking the old Holt Renfrew building at the corner of Yonge and Adelaide (Elgin Building at 118 Yonge St.), disassembling it, demolishing 132 Yonge (newer Addition Elle building) mirroring it and reassembling it at the corner of Temperance and Yonge. Also, they're restoring it to the original Edwardian drawings.
stopitman / April 4, 2013 at 08:23 pm
I walk up Yonge St every day and I can't help but look at it every time I go by - the restoration is absolutely beautiful. The copper (or copper-coloured stuff) on the first floor, the bright brick, and the European-esque balconies make it stick out like a diamond in the rough on that block.

Kudos to the developer, it was a building that deserved to be saved and it looks amazing.
Jordan / April 4, 2013 at 08:28 pm
The restoration looks great - though the addition on the roof is really unfortunate, especially that weird beige door(?). If you're going to do something like that - hire a good architect - this really looks like the first thing a engineer would pop out.
ashleigh / April 5, 2013 at 04:12 am
Story would have been much more impressive with pictures of the "giant yellow machines". Otherwise, regarding your reportage, how do we know that the machines are giant, yellow, or in fact whether there are any machines at all.
alex replying to a comment from Jordan / April 5, 2013 at 09:53 am
If you look at the before pics, the "weird beige door" was there originally, it's probably a smokestack or something.

I like it, this should be done with more buildings in the city
the lemur replying to a comment from ashleigh / April 5, 2013 at 09:55 am
That's what forums are for.
CM / April 5, 2013 at 06:07 pm
I have to agree with all -- it does look magnificent cleaned up and put back to use. We should be doing more of this in Toronto. These legacy buildings bring so much character back to our city. On the other hand, I also agree with the other few -- pity about that top floor '80's atrocity'. What were they smoking?
seanm / April 6, 2013 at 08:09 pm
At the very least the top floor addition should've been pushed to back to the west end of the building, allowing the corner roof line to stand on its own. Light, airy low-iron glass should've been used as well, since the black contrasts in a very obnoxious manner.
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