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It Happened to Me Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

A Nightclub in Liberty Village?

I work in the part of Toronto called “Liberty Village”, an area made up of old warehouses, most of which have been converted into offices and living spaces. It’s where Cory Doctorow last lived before he moved to San Francisco back in 2000, countless television shows and feature films have been shot here (the upcoming Hairspray movie being the latest), a number of high-tech and television and radio facilities are located here, and let’s not forget the “Porn Alley” designation given to the area by a hyped-up Dateline NBC report. It’s rapidly becoming one of those former factory neighbourhoods turning into live/work/place-to-go areas. One parallel that comes to mind is Vancouver’s Yaletown.

This neighbourhood is located a good distance away from Accordion City’s “clubland”, and a dimly-lit railroad underpass and a little-travelled stretch of Dufferin Street bordering on Parkdale (which still is contending with its seedy rep) separates it from the nearest evening destination area, the Drake Hotel/Gladstone Hotel zone. As such, it’s an unlikely place to put a club, but that’s just what happened: there’s a queing-up area, complete with permanently-mounted outdoor heaters, that leads to the entrance of a newly-renovated building at the corner of Liberty and Fraser streets:

Line-up area of new club 'Maro', viewed from the outside.

The club has no signage just yet, but a laser-printed sheet of paper that read “MARO DELIVERIES HERE” suggests that its name is “Maro”, and a little Googling confirmed the name. Apparently, it had its grand opening last Friday, with the Fifth Annual Booby Ball taking place there.

Line-up area of new club 'Maro', viewed from the outside.

According to a recent events listing, the people behind Maro were also behind Brasaii, Brant House and West (I’ve only been to West). These are all pretty upscale places, and from the looks of Maro’s front entrance, it’s catering to the same market:

Line-up area of new club 'Maro', viewed from the outside.

It’s an interesting addition to the neighbourhood. I wonder its being located in this neighbourhood is an attempt to duplicate the “Meat Packing District” club scene in New York. I’ll have to drop by one evening and see what it’s like inside.

7 replies on “A Nightclub in Liberty Village?”

Dude! Liberty Street and all those warehouses, etc.. were the locale for soooo many terrific raves and afterparties back in the day (early-mid 1990’s) … don’t forget Industry nightclub was nearby, too. The area has a long reputation for being a destination for ravers… perhaps they’re trying to cash in on the memories…

I went to a number of those parties, accordion in tow. It’s still up in the air as to whether the kids who’ve traded in their glowsticks for BMWs will come.

As someone who actually lives in South Parkdale (I shun the term Liberty Village as it is a marketing term, not a geographic location) I am loathe to see a ‘big box” night club arrrive. Joey, you said “It’s rapidly becoming one of those former factory neighbourhoods turning into live/work/place-to-go areas.” Did you know that the Liberty Village Buisiness Association is promoting a recent report from Toronto City Council that would remove the live part of the equasion? The plan is to remove all residents from Dufferin to Atlantic, and King to the tracks. That would kick out all the real loft dwellers, including all of us in Cory’s old building, where the great raves still take place. There is no place for the artists and dreamers in the new corporate Liberty Village.

They also want to remove Lamport Stadium and the park. No place for green space where people work, don’t you know.

I am very sad to see that nightclub come in. I saw the Hummers and the Vipers and the immaculate Land Rovers parked outside the club as it was being built. It is the excessive eigthies all over again. The sound you hear is Jane Jacobs rolling over in her grave.

Margot

“It is the excessive eigthies all over again…”

It’s worst than that. The insane housing prices was my clue. When they started with 0% down, I thought that was scarier. Even the 80s weren’t that desperate. Now I’m getting marketing calls from developers who say “Did you know that first-time homebuyers can get government grants?”

I figure it’ll still take at least five years for the collapse to come but, when it does, it’s going to be a big one. Meanwhile those in the know are going to bleed us dry.

I prefer to call it “Liberty Village” because I think it’s less vague than saying “South Parkdale”. I think that there’s a general understanding that Liberty Village covers the area spanned by Liberty Street, bounded by King Street to the north and the railway to the south.

As for the Liberty Village BIA, I disagree with their plan to remove residents ion the genuine lofts from the western half and will lend my voice to the fight.

Lamprt Stadium? Green space? You’ve got to be kidding. If you’re referring to the thin strips of grass surrounding it, maybe, but it’s not so much park space as it is a place for local dogs to poop.

(Let’s not forget that Jane Jacobs had lots of warnings about parks, if implemented the way most people envisioned them. They can become open, deserted, unsafe spaces. Especially with the proximity to the still-skeezier parts of Parkdale.)

And finally, the club: I think it still fits in with Jane Jacobs’ “mixed-use” ethos. This place is deserted at night, and an evening go-to spot would certainly help alleviate that (busy neighbourhoods, Jacobs said, are safe ones).

On the topic of the club’s clientele: aren’t you judging them solely on the basis of having some dough? Are artists the only people who have sole claim to the neighbourhood? Am I in trouble, since technically I’m not an artist, I went to Canada’s snootiest university, and I get paid programmer’s wages and have clothes from Harry Rosen?

Is there room for both the club clientele and the artist locals? I think so.

Margot et al,

Just wanted to correct a mis-understanding. The suggestion to eliminate live/work was made by the local Planner and the Planning department from City Hall. Seems someone decided that the ‘Liberty Village’ area should be an ’employment area’ ergo no residential. But wait a minute, there are numerous people (estimates 200-300) who live, have businesses in the area – some for many, many years. The BIA feels that a mixed-use neighbourhood makes the most sense for a truly vibrant neighbourhood. Some of the local population are organising themselves into a ‘community association’ to oppose the Planners plans for them.

The thing that the Planners conveniently overlook is that the Garrison Common North Secondary Plan – part of the new City of Toronto Official Plan – covers this area … Dufferin, King Street West, Hanna, the rail corridor. In the secondary plan, live/work is encouraged! How to reconcile the two views is the where the focus should be.

The Planning department hoped to see a Local Area Planning Study approved this past summer … and to be fair, the BIA and the local City Councillor had not sought the residents full input or gauged the full impact of this ’employment area’ status on the people who live there – or want to live there.

So, the Local Planning Study is delayed until the Spring 2007 – hopefully, the Planners and the newly elected Councillor will have a true and realistic view of how this mixed-use neighbourhood should be planned … for now and for years to come.

One of the first to recognise the value of Liberty Village said that try as he might he always guessed wrong when it came to trying to figure out what kind of space to build, to renovate, to put on the market. Every time, the market decided what it wanted – and then developers, property owners adapted. The same will be true here – and should be.

Note: Liberty Village is not a marketing moniker … the street that is the spine of the area was called Liberty as it joined the Central Men’s Prison (a dark and forbidding place) and the Mercer Reformatory (a no less unpleasant place) … ie as you left those places behind, you walked along Liberty. Parkdale was the neighbourhood to the west … the row hourse that once lined Fraser, Mowat, Jefferson, etc were housing for the workers at the many factories in the Village.

Regards, Alan

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