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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Koreatown unsure of what comes next after Mirvish Village

Mirvish Village is vacant and Honest Ed's had its big goodbye party this past weekend. The end is nigh for the southwest corner of Bloor and Bathurst as the wrecking ball slowly swoops in.

While the intersection was lively this weekend, it's going to be pretty quiet for the next little while. That's why I spoke to some of those nearby to see what they think about living and working near a ghost town

“I think it does feel a bit empty in this moment, but I don’t think it’s really hit a lot of us until we start to see the kind of demolition of buildings,” says Adil Dhalla, one of the organizers behind last weekend's festivities. We spoke as he was setting up the space. 

Dhalla is also the executive direct of the Centre for Social Innovation, which is headquartered just south of Honest Ed's. 

The CSI also has a location in Regent Park, so Dhalla knows it can be complicated to watch as a neighbourhood changes.

There can lots of positive opportunities, he says, “but there are also really challenging questions around displacement and about ensuring people belong and that they are being considered.”

He remains optimistic about the new West Bank rental development moving in. So does Aaron Zack, the head of operations for Snakes & Lattes just down the street in Koreatown.

Along with working at Snakes & Lattes, Zack has lived in the area for the past six years. 

“It’s sad to see something like that going and I think it’s important we remember what it was and what it built for the neighbourhood,” he says of Honest Ed's and Mirvish Village. 

“But I’m also very hopeful for the development,” he continues, noting that the rentals might provide more affordable housing in the area

He also hopes West Bank includes independently owned businesses in the retail arm of its incoming development. "I hope that they follow through with that and don’t sell space at a high premium," he says.

Andrew Koppel, who runs Kops Records, is a little nervous about the inevitable construction.

He says he hasn't noticed a significant downturn in business since Mirvish Village emptied, but notes that the increased attention on the area has been somewhat of a good thing for Koreatown.

“It’s a mix of excitement and anticipation," he says of the incoming changes. "We’re kind of not sure what’s going to happen next. It’s also good because at the same time, it’s giving the neighbourhood a lot of good press."

Last weekend, for instance, he noticed a sizeable up tick in sales, and he attributes this to the Toronto For Everyone festivities at Honest Ed's.

But still, as Dhalla notes, it's still hard to process that the neighbourhood's going to look substantially different within the next little while. 

by Amy Grief via blogTO

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