As mentioned in my last post about the demise of the Brunny – there is good news on Bloor as well. This building, the former Hungarian Palace, was empty and abandoned not for years, but for decades. When I was a small boy (and lived up the street) the entire ground level was not only completely boarded over, but covered in chicken-wire as well. Above that was flaking black paint and the two rows of emblazoned shields I mentioned.
Cool to a kid – but not to the neighbours (pest control is impossible if your next door tenant is practising demolition by dereliction) – and of no use at all to the area in which it sits. Prime commercial real-estate, too – Bloor in the Annex area has fantastic ‘foot traffic’ – tons of non-drivers and bicyclists reside nearby and there are plenty of hip eateries and bars to get people down there already.
I can only imagine how many schemes were floated over the years, by combinations of planners and investors – many of which must have involved knocking the old structure down and rebuilding. Thankfully, all flopped.
It was only a couple of years ago that the wunderkinds of the BMV chain finally resurrected the store (I heard it cost them four million to renovate) and turned it into the beauty you see before you. Lovely original brick detail – new steel joists!
I’ve got sort of a crush on this business – these BMV folks have managed to beat Book City (also much-beloved) at it’s own game, and have fought the big box stores with impressive verve.
In fact, the giant Indigo chain built a massive two story location right across from BMV’s busy Yonge St. store to try to kill it – fast forward a few years – that BMV is thriving (so busy, you can hardly get in there sometimes) – whereas the Indigo has cleared out most of the main floor to sell pillows and candles, cafe upstairs.
It’s funny how the bourgeoise always consider themselves the rightful custodians of culture – since they make almost none of it. Perhaps they believe that since money motivates them, it must motivate everyone. That would be an understandable comforting delusion for them to enjoy. Pathetic, really.
But please can we get investor conglomerates out of art and culture, and get the lovely folks who really do care back in? I mean people who love books, sell books – painting, likewise. ARTS ARE NOT A PROFIT CENTRE!
Don’t mean to be at all discouraging to my young artist friends – I do of course hope that each and every one of you become breakout superstars – but I would like the ones of you who don’t to also have dignified and stimulating careers – building your skill and insight, so you can share, reach, see and say ever more.
Being, Meaning, Validating – right?
Else what’s the durned thing for, anyhow? ;o)