Saturday, August 30, 2014Mostly Cloudy 29°C
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.

This "proposal" could change all that. In a neighbourhood that seems to thrive on reinvention, this could signify the next phase for the Richmond Street corridor. In the area's current incarnation, individual businesses generally only last a few years, often being shut down for liquor or capacity violations, but when one closes it only creates space and opportunity for another to open.

117 Peter St.At present, 117 Peter houses Embassy, Home, and Traffik nightclubs - as well as a women's fitness centre and a pizza parlour. But over the years, the elongated windows in the red and brown brick have offered a peek into a shifting neighbourhood. Throughout Peter Street's many lives - from manufacturing district all the way to club district and beyond - that building on the corner has changed too, following the trends laid out by the neighbourhood. Buntin-Reid Co., a paper manufacturer, erected the building in 1931 when they moved from Yonge Street.

117 Peter St.The company was founded in 1858; its original headquarters fell victim to the Great Toronto Fire of 1904, but moved to another location elsewhere on Yonge until finding it's new permanent residence on Peter. When Buntin-Reid arrived on Peter Street the neighbourhood was a manufacturing Mecca at the edge of the city.

As the city began to swell, property values rose with it and it wasn't long before the factories began pursuing greener cheaper pastures. When Buntin-Reid moved to Mississauga in the early sixties, Peter Street was already shifting from manufacturing centre to more service oriented industries. Typesetters, appliance repair shops and various importers began occupying the factories' former spaces.

Soon after Buntin-Reid's beeline for the 'burbs, the Bank of Nova Scotia moved in and for the next thirty years the area comfortably expanded, continuing its makeover. By the eighties Scotiabank had vacated too and was replaced by a graphic design firm, foreshadowing another trend that would continue as more creative based companies would soon swarm into the area.

The first inklings of what was to come came in the early nineties. At the time the street was still mostly littered with offices that emptied out at night and in 1995 Orchid Nightclub opened at 117 Peter. Orchid was among the originals of the newly minted scene, but like most clubs it ran its course and by the turn of the century it was being traded in for a new image to keep the masses interested.

117 Peter St.For the next decade the neighbourhood continued to redefine itself, this time as a late night playground for the young. It seems the city was slow to catch on to what was happening in the area and for the next few years there was little stopping the former manufacturing district's metamorphosis.

Today that evolution continues. That piece of plywood fastened to the brick of 117 Peter Street signals the next phase in the districts life - its residential phase. A proposal has been submitted to the city to build a 29-story hotel/condominium. The request is still being debated and fine tuned within City Hall, but there is little doubt change is on the horizon.

117 Peter St.After a decade of pushing people out, the neighbourhood is inviting them back again. Many neighbours - Leo Mourtos of Zupa's and Chris Kotsaboikidis of New York Furs - are welcoming the growth beyond Clubland. The hope is that with a permanent population will come a newfound respect and interest in the neighbourhood and perhaps with that something the area has never really had - stability.

117 Peter St.Photos by Dennis Marciniak

Discussion

51 Comments

Marion Cobretti / August 11, 2010 at 09:07 am
user-pic
I live downtown and have never had an issue with Clubland. I wouldn't go there to party, but I also don't have a problem with the people who do - as long as they're not shooting each other (in excess). The people who we should have issue with are the tools who buy condos in Clubland and then complain about the noise. They must be the children of the people who moved near the airport in the 70's and complained about the airplanes. This town needs an area like clubland, regardless of how lame the crowd is. Better them hanging there then on Dundas West.
nick d replying to a comment from Marion Cobretti / August 11, 2010 at 09:14 am
user-pic
Gd. Pt. Marion
Hamish Grant / August 11, 2010 at 09:37 am
user-pic
How can anyone write an article about 117 Peter St. without mentioning System Soundbar?

http://www.blogto.com/city/2005/12/so_long_system_soundbar/

Or Tonic Nightclub?

And before that, the location was used for many terrific raves and warehouse parties.

Matt / August 11, 2010 at 09:42 am
user-pic
Pretty soon the "warehouse district" will have no warehouses left. No reason this condo couldn't include the existing building. Besides laziness and cheapness.
Sketchy replying to a comment from Hamish Grant / August 11, 2010 at 09:46 am
user-pic
Yeah maaaaaaan and Turbo! Didn't I meet you down the K hole there?
Matt / August 11, 2010 at 09:47 am
user-pic
And there's a pile of crap one-storeys across the street that are perfect candidates for demolition. Why do we insist on destroying good buildings and leaving the ugly ones intact? Christ.
Josh / August 11, 2010 at 09:47 am
user-pic
Not even a mention of the 2nd best club Toronto's ever had, System SoundBar? It occupied that basement for many years...
chuck / August 11, 2010 at 09:51 am
user-pic
I don't think Leo is there anymore, I was in Zupa's this morning and was told that he had sold it.

That's a shame, I liked seeing Leo everyday whether it was to get something to eat or to just get a drink to go.

The Corned Beef has been temporarily shut down also by a new condo, but they are apparently moving to a new location.
Ryan L. / August 11, 2010 at 09:56 am
user-pic
Here comes the condo hate.

I would have thought condo/hotel development which encourage density replacing an infamous club corner would be the one time blogTO commentators would be able to support it.

I have news for people: Every part of the city had been once 'zoned' for some other type of building. If we were to preserve every building that had once been devoted to manufacturing, then the city's growth would grind to a halt. You have to pick and choose buildings to replace and preserve if you want the city to maintain its character, but still have growth. The key is to pick buildings that are historically significant or architecturally beautiful. This is neither. Get over it.
Matt` / August 11, 2010 at 10:14 am
user-pic
You're wrong, and I don't hate condos.

Heritage preservation can't be about cherry-picking a few showpiece buildings. It's about preserving a certain urban fabric and historical quality--remarkable buildings and average ones. Then densifying the city by laying new building around and over top that (in this case, incorporating the original building into a podium for the condo, which would be awesome.)

This is the way good cities are built.

Besides, didn't I say I'd be fine with demolishing the one-storey uglies across the street? Way to have a knee-jerk response.
gw / August 11, 2010 at 10:24 am
user-pic
No mention of the budget-busting homeless shelter directly across the street in the former home of Fez Batik? How is that going to fit in to this whole reinvention? The city planning for this area leaves a lot to be desired.
spel / August 11, 2010 at 10:25 am
user-pic
Learn to spell.
Reality / August 11, 2010 at 10:37 am
user-pic
+1 Ryan L.

BlogTo people do like the idea of high density planning as opposed to suburban sprawl, but they do not like condos. They probably are in strong support of racial equality, just do not want to be in an area where there are black people who do not at least have an undergrad degree.

BTW: Kant's categorical imperative includes everyone but themselves and their actions.
Hamish Grant replying to a comment from Sketchy / August 11, 2010 at 10:39 am
user-pic
K? What are you, 12?

I did acid, e, shrooms and pot (although not all at the same time, mostly...) back in my clubbing days.

Never went in for the horse sedatives and the like. Distracts from the music, man...
adam / August 11, 2010 at 10:41 am
user-pic
Leo retired a couple of weeks ago and sold Zupa's. All the line cooks are the same as is the menu, at least for now. Hard to believe. Peter street deli gone, Leo gone.
Unreality replying to a comment from Reality / August 11, 2010 at 10:48 am
user-pic
Dude, no one is saying density is bad. They're saying destroying old buildings is bad when there's no reason to. And where do you get off saying people are racist? (And then justifying with some Kant?!)

Some people just don't want to see all Toronto's brick and stone get knocked down so that we live in some Hong Kong looking city. Count me in as one.
ira / August 11, 2010 at 10:49 am
user-pic
I agree with the above posters who are thinking that this over development is ridiculous. The housing market is already disapearing in Toronto and we are going to shove more unneeded condos in an area that is just absolutely rip for an absolute bubble burst! Smart. As much as I do not like the conservatives like Tory, we need a businessman to be elected Mayor!
Bonk / August 11, 2010 at 10:55 am
user-pic
Bring back System(s)! L0L
Liz / August 11, 2010 at 11:04 am
user-pic
I am not a condo-dweller, and I don't think I ever could be. I think they should leave the building as is and develop it accordingly. No more high-rise buildings!
clinton / August 11, 2010 at 11:19 am
user-pic
@ ira. I agree the first part of what you say but we don't need more business men running the city. Unfortunately it is the developers that rule Toronto and allow this unchecked expansion of condos. If a mayor had more of a mind for urban planning and less for business we might be in a better place.

I'm not against condos at all, but all for smart urban planning. Integrating the original building into the condo would be great though doubtful at this point.

Whoever buys a condo there will be met with the folks across the street at the mega-homeless shelter...but that's the big city for you!
Ryan L. replying to a comment from Matt` / August 11, 2010 at 11:22 am
user-pic
Yes, but preserving a facade isn't cheap.

Do you really think the development company is going to pay tens of millions of dollars more to preserve <i>-that-</i>? It would be cheaper and more effective to just incorporate a warehouse style into the new design. Where do you think that money would come from? It would only get transferred down to the cost of the condos.

And that would bring us to BlogTO's other popular contradiction. The demand for affordable housing, but also increasingly expensive demands in regards to infrastructure and style.

Would you be okay if they preserved this facade and instead built luxury condos?

Would you also be okay with the increased cost of preserving facades meaning only the largest (and likely international) developers will be able to build at these locations?

Would anyone even buy a luxury condo with this poor excuse for a facade worth keeping?

Could the condo even be efficiently designed while keeping the facade? They'll probably want store front space on the ground level and this facade just doesn't really support it. (The ground level retail is often demanded or encouraged by the city if they are to allow a new building being built).

Also, the likely reason why they aren't tearing down the one story buildings? They aren't for sale or the owner is demanding an unrealistic price for the property. If the building WAS up for sale and not overpriced, I guarantee you that they'd be redeveloped in a heartbeat.
Matt / August 11, 2010 at 11:24 am
user-pic
See, Ryan L? I disagree with Liz. So don't lump everyone into the same boat. I'm fine with high-rises. In fact, bring them on. But not willy-nilly... properly incorporated.

And it looks like the warehouse may stick around... the planning report submitted to the city indicated that the demolition of the building currently there was undesirable, and that the proposed tower was too tall. I agree with the former, not the latter, but anyway, there you have it.
Ryan L. replying to a comment from Matt / August 11, 2010 at 11:29 am
user-pic
I think the most effective way of doing this is to discourage glass/steel and encourage more use of brickwork and other materials unique to the neighbourhood than to hold onto facades that aren't really that great looking to begin with. Properly done and this new building could look MORE in character with the neighbourhood than the existing one.
Matt / August 11, 2010 at 11:50 am
user-pic
Well, I definitely agree that we need to get off this glass and steel treadmill. (It has its place, but it's getting boring.)

But still, old buildings have that patina of age. And their property taxes are often grandfathered, and they're often simply cheaper for businesses to operate out of than brand-new buildings, which gives them a unique place in the urban economy. (i.e., a mom-and-pop shop can operate out of many old buildings more easily than a new construction.)
bricko / August 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm
user-pic
It's a little more effort and engineering, but suck it up, stfu and save the west facade. Build the tower on top.
mick / August 11, 2010 at 12:15 pm
user-pic
Whether you're pro-condo or not, it's simply an inappropriate place to build...it's CLUBLAND for crying out loud! Anyone who buys there is going to flip at the noise levels/public debauchery they have to wade through 3 nights a week.

Every city needs a place for people to let loose, and this district took many years to become firmly established. Unless the developers are planning to keep the first 3 floors as clubs, then it makes no sense to keep chipping away at the district in this fashion.

If you argue the scene can simply shift elsewhere, it can only expand along King St. (or Wellington) so far before it runs into more residential, and already condo developers are infilling condo towers west of Spadina as fast as they can.

This trend is going to eventually bite a lot of people in the ass, we need to work out better policy now while there's still time.
fluff / August 11, 2010 at 12:20 pm
user-pic
"And that would bring us to BlogTO's other popular contradiction. The demand for affordable housing, but also increasingly expensive demands in regards to infrastructure and style."

What a joke, do you really think that this is going to be affordable housing? As far as im concerned if your rich enough to afford a condo downtown making sure the thing isnt an eyesore is the least you could do.
Ryan L. replying to a comment from fluff / August 11, 2010 at 01:25 pm
user-pic
It's all relative. When you're someone with a real, adult job then the difference between a $300,000 condo and a $500,000 condo is a huge one.

A 300k condo isn't unreasonable with someone with an average, salaried, entry level job (that isn't part time at DQ). 500k could add another 10 years onto the dream of owning your own home.
Nesta / August 11, 2010 at 03:49 pm
user-pic
System Soundbar!!!
Rly? / August 11, 2010 at 04:02 pm
user-pic
"A 300k condo isn't unreasonable with someone with an average, salaried, entry level job (that isn't part time at DQ). 500k could add another 10 years onto the dream of owning your own home."

Uh, beg to differ, Mr. Privilege. To those in my university cohort who had Mom and Dad pay for university, and had their help getting a job, AND could live at home rent-free while they saved for that down payment, yeah, $300K may be reasonable. But to those of us who are paying $300-$400 a month on their $40K student loans, while paying anywhere from $900-1400/month in rent, working their way up through less-illustrious ($40K-60K/year) careers, it could be a decade(s) before they come anywhere *near* having a reasonable downpayment on a downtown condo.
jen ables / August 11, 2010 at 04:13 pm
user-pic
after spending half a million on my loft i don't need to step over 905er puke and deal with drunk and high hooligans every night. these clubs have no business being in urban residential neighborhoods. i can't even walk my purse dog without having to threaten bodily harm to these punks.
Rly? / August 11, 2010 at 04:14 pm
user-pic
@Ryan. L,

Cont'd:

Ingdirect.ca's mortgage calculator, with an input of $50,000 salary/year, estimates a maximum mortgage loan for a condo (with est. $500/month condo fees and taxes at $2100) at a purchase price of $179,000, with a down payment of $7964.

The same estimator says I can purchase a condo at $300K at $75,000 salary, with a $14,000 down payment. In what world is $75K "entry level?"
Jay / August 11, 2010 at 04:57 pm
user-pic
@Jen Ables,

LOL im hoping you are being sarcastic! The clubs were there before the condos. If people dont like dealing with club people, why do they buy a condo near clubs and bars? Did they not do their research before they bought? Perhaps condos have no business being in urban entertainment districts?

Do people not realize that living in cities comes with a requirement of noise tolerance and people tolerance? And that some neighbourhoods have more noise and activity than others?



Nj / August 11, 2010 at 06:36 pm
user-pic
I like clubland because it condenses all the 905'ers to one specific spot.
When you take clubland away, they will spread out to my area!!!!!! NOOOOOO!!!!!!!
dave debreve / August 11, 2010 at 07:05 pm
user-pic
lets be honest club kids only make up less than half a percent of the city's entire population. if it moves somewhere else i doubt any tax payer would miss it.
seanm replying to a comment from Rly? / August 11, 2010 at 07:36 pm
user-pic
If you spent 40k on education, and it isn't getting you into a fairly high earning career within 5 years, you've wasted your money.

Please don't tell me it was psych or a liberal arts degree.
JR / August 11, 2010 at 07:41 pm
user-pic
An important point that's been missed: this area is filled with clubs not because the city's planning department decided that it would be really great to have a club district, but because the area was derelict, rents were cheap, and old industrial buildings happen to be good spaces for nightclubs. Planning bylaws were relaxed in order to allow the opening of mega-clubs.

Move a few decades ahead, and guess what? This area is no longer seen as peripheral, rents are getting too high to support clubs and people (gasp!) like to live near their jobs. Its just part of the evolution of the neighbourhood. I don't really see much of an intrinsic link between the neighbourhood and nightclubs anyways
JR / August 11, 2010 at 07:42 pm
user-pic
An important point that's been missed: this area is filled with clubs not because the city's planning department decided that it would be really great to have a club district, but because the area was derelict, rents were cheap, and old industrial buildings happen to be good spaces for nightclubs. Planning bylaws were relaxed in order to allow the opening of mega-clubs.

Move a few decades ahead, and guess what? This area is no longer seen as peripheral, rents are getting too high to support clubs and people (gasp!) like to live near their jobs. Its just part of the evolution of the neighbourhood. I don't really see much of an intrinsic link between the neighbourhood and nightclubs anyways
JR / August 11, 2010 at 07:47 pm
user-pic
An important point that's been missed: this area is filled with clubs not because the city's planning department decided that it would be really great to have a club district, but because the area was derelict, rents were cheap, and old industrial buildings happen to be good spaces for nightclubs. Planning bylaws were relaxed in order to allow the opening of mega-clubs.

Move a few decades ahead, and guess what? This area is no longer seen as peripheral, rents are getting too high to support clubs and people (gasp!) like to live near their jobs. Its just part of the evolution of the neighbourhood. I don't really see much of an intrinsic link between the neighbourhood and nightclubs anyways
JR / August 11, 2010 at 07:50 pm
user-pic
An important point that's been missed: this area is filled with clubs not because the city's planning department decided that it would be really great to have a club district, but because the area was derelict, rents were cheap, and old industrial buildings happen to be good spaces for nightclubs. Planning bylaws were relaxed in order to allow the opening of mega-clubs.

Move a few decades ahead, and guess what? This area is no longer seen as peripheral, rents are getting too high to support clubs and people (gasp!) like to live near their jobs. Its just part of the evolution of the neighbourhood. I don't really see much of an intrinsic link between the neighbourhood and nightclubs anyways
Rly replying to a comment from seanm / August 11, 2010 at 08:08 pm
user-pic
Yep, arts degree, and paying for rent by myself the whole way through. *shrug* Not everyone is made to work in finance or tech, dude.
dave / August 11, 2010 at 10:45 pm
user-pic
geez, it's a pissing contest now. let me guess you own a tiny 300 sqf "loft", own a dog you can fit in your murse, and with one hand holding your ipad and the other your iphone. wow you're so cool.
Twohy replying to a comment from Rly? / August 12, 2010 at 02:34 am
user-pic
Get married.
Rly? replying to a comment from Twohy / August 12, 2010 at 10:53 am
user-pic
I'd rather rent, thanks.
Marc / August 16, 2010 at 01:49 am
user-pic
Be practical. Too many condos now, while economic growth is slowing. You need to have a job and work in order to pay for that condo.
Alogon replying to a comment from Hamish Grant / August 16, 2010 at 12:37 pm
user-pic
Serious! Where did all the acid go in this city? You can get more mushrooms than Super Mario but you want a little acid and it's like trying to find a decent candidate for mayor - pointless and frustrating.
Alogon replying to a comment from gw / August 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm
user-pic
What? It's perfect planning. Bringing the consumers (panhandlers) to the suppliers (people who have change) - now that's building the local economy. Didn't city council promise to do that? See? Their not always full of shit
Alogon replying to a comment from Ryan L. / August 16, 2010 at 12:54 pm
user-pic
300k not unreasonable? First qualify that with the type, location and size of property you are getting. Average wages for "adults" according to Statscan is roughly $50,000/year. Then also realize that real "adult" wages have not increased anywhere close to the rate of property inflation (which, as a real estate guy, I can tell you is way out of whack for what you are getting - in real terms not market terms since the market is driven by tools who will overpay). Further, 300k is more like 500k to 600k once mortgages are paid off. Add condo fees to that 300k.
I would say I disagree with you in terms of what is "reasonable".
Marc / August 18, 2010 at 11:32 am
user-pic
Focus on the truth. These condos are fake indicators about our economy and industry. Some are saying that they are put up and bought by too many foreign people who use them in a money laundering way. They are the ones bloating up our economy here, which is wrong because it doesn't match the real level we're in as well as wealth level.
law essay help / April 14, 2014 at 08:53 am
user-pic
That insight solves the problem. Thanks!
JJ / April 14, 2014 at 09:54 am
user-pic
I completely agree with one of the above posts regarding changing building materials. However, that will drive the price up for condos, which are already inflated as the real estate guy mentioned.

One of the earlier posters nailed it. The club district will have to move. People want to live close to work. That was actually the most important aspect of my housing. I needed to be walking distance to the financial district.

The clubbing district has already moved to a certain degree. Now you have more parties happening along Dundas and Ossington. King west is even losing it's elite/douchey status. I've seen a lot more young hipsters in the party scene than I'm accustomed to. I guess the issue is the clubbing district caters to 905ers while the other spots cater more to the downtowners.

Add a Comment

Other Cities: Montreal