When I started to research the future of the Galleria Mall, located at the corner of Dufferin and Dupont,I didn't think it would make me nostalgic, I thought I would mock it as the "armpit" of Toronto, long overdue for an overhaul. AI saw it as a throwback from the 70's, covered in beige rock stucco and boasting one of the last public photo booths, a feature I recently heard called the 'original selfie machine'.

 
Galleria first opened in 1972 and was a real novelty as one of the earliest covered malls in the city. Since its opening it has been owned by the same family and run as a family business. The stores in the mall are still mostly mom and pop shop operations, and the shoppers are still largely composed of immigrant grandparents from around the Mediterranean region. Back in 1972 Dupont Street itself didn't yet exist here; it was created by linking unconnected streets, which explains why it has a number of kinks, like the one around the mall itself.
 
Back in 2004 a rezoning application was approved for mixed use development including 1600 residential units. Since 2009 there have been more than 200 inquiries into this 12 acre blank canvas, but only three have made it as far a deposit cheque. Now it has been purchased by 2470347 Ontario, rumoured to be a part of Freed
 
Developments. Freed has also purchased 328 Dupont, west of Spadina, and submitted a proposal for two high rise condo towers at that location. The developers boast of "re-imagining the city with design-based development" - sounds good in theory!

 

Done properly the redevelopment of the Galleria Mall could become the cornerstone of the revamping of the entire corridor along Dupont. So, while researching the upcoming makeover of Dufferin and Dupont I felt torn by the loss of yet another of the city's old-school institutions, but also a little hopeful about how that area could be revitalized by a project done well here. That sad strip of Dupont could become something vibrant, a destination rather than a strip you drive by thinking of your grocery list. 

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I bought my first dish set there. It was grass green and I thought it was the bees knees. I think I paid 99 cents each for the dinner plates. Honest Ed's. Its 23,000 lights have been festooning the corner of Bathurst and Bloor since 1948. Now the building is slated for demolition in December of 2016 after being on the market for 100 million .

 

To what end? In the name of progress! Vancouver based developer Westbank has a proposed development for Markham Street in Toronto that centers around a 29 storey building and a number of other buildings of varying heights. It's one million square feet of family sized rental units, daycare centre, public market, retail spaces, bicycle valet parking (whatever that is!) auto share, car charging stations.  Markham Street will to be closed to all but pedestrian traffic and filled with "destination dining", and the existing lane way will be lined with pop up micro stores and 57 live/work artists lofts.

 

The "angle" is renewing Mirvish village while still retaining the "bazaar" feel of the neighbourhood. Many promises of honouring heritage, sustainability to cycling and creating urban design are being made, but I cannot help but feel this is the death of another Toronto landmark, going the way of the Sam the Record man sign -- and which way is that?......no one seems to know.  Landfill? It breaks my heart a little, and I cannot help but feel that a little of Toronto's heart is being broken too.

 

The history of Honest Ed's lies in it's cheap goods for everyone and Ed's generosity with his periodic free turkey handouts.  Immigrants and new comers to Toronto from all over have done as I did and furnished their first homes with necessities from this giant vaudevillian discount shop.  Now, while it is being refurbished with rental family units as it's proposed centre, I cannot help but wonder if any of the people who shopped at Honest Ed's would be in the income bracket to rent the units?

 

Speaking of signs, the handmade window and store signs have been for sale, some as low as $2.  With a a quick peek at kijiji, I found one for $300.

 

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