THE URBANE VILLAGE
When David Russell decided to roll out his Sporting Life franchise nationally, he asked his database research company to find locations in Canada’s major metropolitan centres that mirrored his Yonge and Eglinton flagship site. Sometime later they reported back empty-handed with a simple message: the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood is totally unique in this country. Nowhere else matches its singular profile: very high income demographic, a compelling mix of young, old and everyone in between, folks raising families, twenty-somethings relishing their young and eligible lifestyle and well-established professionals living with their kids in single-family homes, luxury condos and high-end rental apartments. Anyone buying property here is getting a piece of Canada’s prime residential real-estate play. And it’s only going to get better. Right now, Yonge and Eglinton is in the midst of a massive metamorphosis as one stunning condominium community after another welcomes new residents. When this makeover is complete, the district will be infinitely more urban, and urbane, without in anyway diminishing the neighbourhood’s small-town vibe. Indeed, this district enjoys the best of both worlds: big city attractions and a small-town sensibility.
Mind you, one of the area’s key calling cards has always been its “downtown vibe”— midtown. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the few blocks on Yonge Street, north and south of Eglinton. And a few blocks on Eglinton east of Yonge. Sure, all the name brand chains are here: Indigo, Roots, Starbucks and more. But it’s the one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques, bars and restaurants that give the ‘hood’ its unique ambience. For men’s wear, try Carbon, once described as akin to walking into the owner’s closet because the clothes’ lines are so, well, sui generis. Think labels like True Religion, Citizens of Humanity and Justin Timberlake’s hard-to-find William Rast collection. For women’s clothes the range is equally eclectic, and elegant, with stores like Bela or Dash, and for expectant mothers, Kick and Becoming.
Yonge and Eglinton, the epicentre of Toronto, is surrounded by some of Canada’s most coveted residential enclaves: Forest Hill to the southwest, Lawrence Park to the north, Leaside and Bayview to the east and Rosedale to the south. A few blocks in either direction from the centre yields a fascinating variety of choices to inspire all the senses: the city’s most celebrated gourmet eateries, brand name fashions, coffee bars, cocktail lounges, fitness emporiums, designer furniture, verdant parks and trails.
At the site of the original Sporting Life location is Au Lit, a treasure trove of bed linens and bath ware. Further up the street is Mercer and Prince, which retails exquisitely crafted home accessories. Aficionados of fine dining can make their way to establishments like North 44 and Pronto, Grano and Grazie. Among the many bars and clubs are Alleycatz Live Jazz Bar for those who like a little syncopation with their dry martinis, or the legendary St. Louis Bar & Grill where live music comes with the chicken wings. A few blocks away are two scenic parks, the Sherwood Park and Eglinton Park. And just 5 minutes to the south is the Kay Gardner Trail, a favourite with hikers, joggers and dog walkers.
The bar and restaurant scene is truly eclectic — there’s something to suit everyone’s culinary inclination. Notable eateries include the Franco-Italian Alize and Japanese Ajimi Sushi. The list goes on and on, as do establishments to cater to more special cravings. Have a sweet tooth, try Coco Roque, a chocolatier-to-die-for, or hankering for an exotic Nepalese brew, try Himalayan Java. For those who love the nightlife, there’s no need to go downtown; midtown Yonge and Eglinton loves to party-on, too. Word to the wise: arrive early if you want a spot on their summer patio. And if you like your “cheers” really close to home, the uptown branch of prime-time meet-and-greet bar, The Keg, opened literally next door to 2221 YONGE.
Finally, for those who love the outdoors, this is one of the city’s sweet spots. Just a few blocks away is one of the area’s largest greenspaces, Eglinton Park. Created in 1926, it is one of Toronto’s largest athletic fields with two baseball diamonds, soccer pitches, a splash pool and a kids’ playground. A few blocks east is Sherwood Park, one of the largest remaining protected nature areas in the city. The park enjoys the distinction of being a small remnant of the vast Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Forest that once covered the whole region and some of its trees are over 150 years old. So, how green is Yonge and Eglinton? Enough to make it the envy of other ‘hoods.’
How easy is it to move around the city, or the region from where you hang your hat? On that critical question, we’d argue that 2221 YONGE is nonpareil, without equal. How so? Well, it’s more or less at the geographical centre of the Metro Toronto; it’s a major hub on the Yonge subway line, with major bus routes fanning out from the station. But here’s the kicker: with the completion of the Eglinton/Crosstown LRT, now under construction, Yonge/Eglinton will be one of just a handful of subway stops that allow you to travel in all directions: north, south, east and west. When completed, the line will have 26 stations in total, with its western terminus at Black Creek Drive and its eastern at McCowan Road in Scarborough. Eventually, it’s projected the Eglinton/Crosstown will terminate at Pearson Airport, at one end, and the Kennedy subway station, at the other, where it will connect with the TTC’s Bloor/Danforth line. For the future residents of 2221 YONGE, just walking across the street accesses all this “people-on-the-move” convenience.