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Toronto Club District

A gaming hub thrives at 364 Richmond St.

Posted by Luke Champion / August 14, 2010

Gaming Toronto364 Richmond Street could be described as a model of the modern entertainment district. Beneath its roof, the century old building straddles the vanguard of both day and night. By night it hosts one of the entertainment districts longest running and most successful nightclubs: This is London. By day however, it transforms into a creative hub for Bitcasters and more recently the Social Game Universe.

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Toronto Club District

More nightclubs to disappear from Clubland under proposed hotel/condo development

Posted by Luke Champion / August 11, 2010

117 Peter St.A large sign is fixed over a front window at 117 Peter Street; in official city lettering, the headline reads: "Development Proposal." The three-story warehouse sits on the southeast corner of Peter and Richmond - the epicenter of Clubland - and has hosted some of the areas most notorious and successful nightclubs. On any given weekend thousands of would be bar-stars descend on the downtown core in a quest to see and be seen.

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Toronto Club District

Sold! 140 year old house on Peter St. in the Club District

Posted by Luke Champion / July 29, 2010

124122-124 Peter Street has been vacant for over a year now. Outside the cracking grey building with white trim is a yard of overgrown weeds and a "for sale" sign.

Donald Woods has owned the house his entire life. In fact, Woods is the third generation in his family to take possession of the building, but this isn't the story of some greedy offspring seeing dollar signs in his inheritance. Woods is not a young man and he's held onto that property for quite a long time, but his years of running the building as a rooming house are behind him. The place has become more work than his deteriorating health can handle and as a result, for the first time since the late 1800's, one of the few houses left on Peter is looking for new owners.

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Toronto Club District

The last days of a Club District psychic

Posted by Luke Champion / July 20, 2010

Psychic MinaThe main floor of 118 Peter Street, just south of Richmond, is adorned with an array of elegant clutter. Candles, incense and amulets sit on tables with graceful drapery over widows. This is the studio of psychic Mina, a seer with 28 years experience and a long family history of clairvoyance.

She's been located on Peter Street since 1994 and called the place home until about three years ago. When she arrived it was a fairly quiet side street in the funky fashion district of Queen West.

"When I first moved down here it was the fashion district, not the entertainment district," she said. "There was maybe one or two clubs, lots of business people, it was - it was heaven."

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Toronto Club District

Where restaurants go to die in the Club District

Posted by Staff / July 15, 2010

Club District restaurantsThere are two types of businesses that inhabit the old Maclean Building (345 Adelaide St. West) at the corner of Adelaide and Charlotte.

The first kind occupies the upper five floors of this six-floor mid-rise. They're companies like Red Rover Studios - a special effects and animation company that works with the likes of Pixar, Disney and Universal pictures. These types of businesses - creative studios, ad agencies, software firms - have managed to carve out a symbiotic relationship with the neighbourhood. They're fairly removed from any ground level chaos, they can cover the cost of skyrocketing rent, and they're full of young people.

Danielle Araiche has been an executive producer at Red Rover since 2003. She finds the area quite hospitable.

"It's actually a really great area to work in," she said. "A lot of great restaurants, it's lively, and everything sort of changes over at night; Thursday, Friday and Saturday it's like a whole new culture and that's kind of neat."

But this is where the issues lie for the other businesses at 345 Adelaide. At ground level there's been a revolving door of restaurants that can't seem to make the neighbourhood work for them. It's certainly not for lack of people; with the area bringing in unique demographics day and night, the streets are always busy. So then what's the problem?

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Toronto Club District

Clubland originals mingle with nightclubs on Adelaide

Posted by Staff / July 9, 2010

zupas deli torontoIt's mid afternoon and Leo Mourtos is just sitting down to take a break from the lunchtime rush. As the owner of Zupa's Restaurant & Deli, located at 342 1/2 Adelaide St. W., he is one of the few staples in a neighbourhood in constant flux. Zupa's, a tradition since 1975, was only taken over by Mourtos seven years ago, but as the mustachioed proprietor explains, he's become somewhat of a fixture.

"I embrace my business with a very positive attitude," he said. " I'll bend over backwards to take care of my customers."

Zupa'sIt's that kind of old world attitude that comes through so easily when speaking to Mourtos. He's warm and inviting and seems to know everyone in the neighbourhood. Even as we speak, people are steadily popping in to say hello and he is always delighted to engage.

The building is a modest structure built in a former laneway. It's a little haphazard but that's part of its charm. Any given morning the place fills up with suits and labourers alike all looking for a classic breakfast and a bottomless cup of coffee to start the day.

ZupasBut even those regulars to the neighbourhood have started to change. Since the mid-nineties nightclubs have been steadily moving in, driving real estate rates sky high and putting a strain on many of the traditional businesses of the area.

Mourtos's neighbour, Chris Kotsaboikidis, owns and operates New York Furs next door at 342 Adelaide St. W. When he moved in 17 years ago, the neighbourhood was littered with small manufacturers pumping out leather, fur and various other garments, but when the clubs began moving in, many of Kotsaboikidis's colleagues moved out.

New York fur"A lot of the fashion businesses moved up to Lawrence because real estate got so expensive here," he said. "It used to be a lot cheaper, now it's five times the money because of all the restaurants and clubs."

Today Kotsaboikidis is one of just a few left from that former era. As the area becomes better known for its nightlife, retailers like Kotsaboikidis have a tougher and tougher time attracting the clientele down to their storefronts.

"The More bars and nightclubs that open, the more the retail business goes down," he said.

fur torontoAnd while Mourtos might have a steady clientele of regulars in the area, he's sympathetic; but his issue with the nightlife is more about respect.

"My neighbours are a club and now my parking is always filthy, " he said. "They have hoses coming down the wall and as the rain comes it dumps on our side. During the winter months it freezes and what happens is it can fall and cut like a knife, it happened. The car next door was cut in half by it."

And while the nightclubs attract a lot of people to the area, it's not really the clientele Mourtos is looking for.

fur clubland"It would be feasible to operate 24 hours a day now," he said. "As the area becomes more residential and mixed use it would make sense to operate 24 hours, but with the clubs it becomes problematic--I don't want to deal with the rowdiness."

But just as the clubs replaced manufacturers, a new dimension to the neighbourhood is beginning to sprout up that gives Mourtos hope--people. While many might gripe about the condo boom in Toronto, many downtown merchants benefit from the increased foot traffic. Not only that, but a strong residential population in the area does a lot to prevent free reign for the various club owners.

fur adelaide"It's changing, the people at city hall are trying to move the clubs out of the area, " he said. "It's becoming kind of a high-end area that is desirable, whether its condos or restaurants."

Kotsaboikidis agrees. He's looking forward to seeing more people back in the neighbourhood.

"I think it's getting better because it's becoming more residential," he said. " It will be good for the area. "

Writing by Luke Champion. Photos by Dennis Marciniak
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