There was much sadness in Toronto clubland when the Guvernment/Kool Haus (né RPM) closed its doors for good in January. More tears were shed when the demolition crews went to work and have now torn down and carted away a good two-thirds of the building’s structure.
“Do we really need more condos?” came the wail. “It’s the Manhattanization of Toronto!” (Sidebar: Shut up, you whingers. The fact that Toronto has a net influx of people wanting to live downtown is a thing that cities would kill for. This is incredibly healthy. And it’s even crazier that we’re turning brownfields and once-barren industrial land into liveable space! Now if we only had a transit system to support this growing population. But that’s a whole ‘nother pile o’ shit.)
I’ve had a good look at the proceedings from my perch across the street in the Corus building. And while so many clubbers were distraught over the death of the Guvernment/Kool Haus, I was actually kind of giddy. Not because I was happy to see the place go, of course, but because I knew what was going in its place.
Yes, there will be condos, but that’s only part of the plan.
Over the next three years, this site will be transformed into a $700 million “city of the arts” by Daniels Corp, the same people who built the TIFF Lightbox and rebuilt Regent Park. Bounded by Queens Quay on the south, Jarvis on the west, Lake Shore on the north and a stubby street called Richardon on the east, the new development will feature 26,000 m² of office space, 25,000 m² of retail and 60,500 m² of residential space.
George Brown College will be a tenant. The developers are pursuing other arts-related organizations with the goal of signing up a record label or two. And the space will be available to music, film and other arts-style businesses which need an incubator environment to get off the ground.
There’s more, too. Sugar Beach will be extended to the north side of Queen’s Quay, creating more open public space. A second area known as “The Yard” will run east-west through the development. Comparisons are already being made to Brick Lane in London’s East End.
If Daniels’ plans bounce their way, the first phase will consist of construction on the southern end of the property (i.e. along Queens Quay) complete with the commercial, retail and creative space. Phase two will involve the academic space and a 48-storey residential tower. (As for someone who works across the street, I, for one, welcome our new retail neighbours. It’s a million miles to the nearest Starbucks and I hope to hell that the neighbourhood will get a good burrito space. Chipotle, anyone?)
Combine this with the new expansion project at Massey Hall and Toronto’s Music City initiative and we have the solid foundations of turning the city into a major music destination.
But what about clubland? Hang tight. There are people who want to help with a venue or two in the 2,000 to 4,000 capacity range. Patience, dear friends, patience.
(More pictures at Blog.TO)