is a district in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, well known for its shopping. It is a former village, annexed by the City of Toronto. It is roughly bounded by Bloor Street to the south, Davenport Road to the north, Yonge Street to the east and Avenue Road to the west, and is considered part of the ‘The Annex’ neighbourhood officially. It is one of Canada’s most exclusive shopping districts. In 2006, it was the 22nd most expensive street in the world, with rents of $208 per square foot.
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Yorkville had rents of $300 per square foot in 2008, making it the third most expensive retail space in North America. In 2008, Bloor St. was named the seventh most expensive shopping street in the world by Fortune Magazine, claiming tenants can pull in $1,500 to $4,500 per square foot in sales.
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Yorkville has upscale shopping, restaurants, and the first five star hotel in Canada. Upscale boutiques include Burberry, Prada, Gucci, MAC Cosmetics, Hugo Boss, Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Holt Renfrew, Tiffany & Co., Escada, Ermenegildo Zegna, Cartier, Harry Rosen, Calvin Klein, Cole Haan, Vera Wang, Lacoste, Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Williams-Sonoma, Bang and Olufsen, Betsey Johnson,Max Mara, Montblanc, Bulgari, Birks, Coach, Guerlain, Swarovski, and other upscale designer boutiques. The Holt Renfrew store on Bloor is the luxury retailer’s flagship and largest store with four floors and boutiques. Many flagships of other companies are located here as well, such as Harry Rosen, Town Shoes, Lacoste, Gucci, Coach, and Chanel (in which the Canadian flagship became one of the largest in the world.) Browns Shoes opened on Bloor, with merchandise that is much more expensive than at their other boutiques.
In recent years, mid-market retailers have begun to locate along Bloor. In 2005, Winners and La Senza opened stores, later followed by French Connection, Puma, Aldo, Aritzia, Club Monaco, Banana Republic, American Apparel, Roots Canada Ltd, Guess, Nike, Zara, Roots,Lululemon, Sephora, Gap and H&M. Discount retailer, Labels 4 Less, recently opened their own store, to the disappointment of many of its neighbours. Nonetheless, Yorkville has been recognized as one of the most luxurious shopping streets in North America, being compared to New York’s Fifth Avenue, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, and Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive. Demand is still high on Bloor St., according to Real Estate firm, Cushman and Wakefield. 5 years ago, retail space rents were $110 per square foot. Although, last year’s Cushman and Wakefield report indicate rents of $198 per square foot, their Q407 Toronto Retail Report mentions current deals reaching $300 per square foot, making Bloor St. the third most expensive retail street in North America. This has led to higher rents on Cumberland St. and Yorkville Ave., with several new developments asking $125 per square foot. Expensive Indian fashion boutique INDIVA, which moved to a smaller boutique on Yorkville Ave., claims that the monthly rent at their previous location was $85,000. Many independent retailers struggle to meet these demands, and many in past years have closed or relocated to other streets. However, it is estimated that some retailers pull in more than $2000 per square foot in sales.
Luxury hotels in Yorkville include the InterContinental Toronto Yorkville, Four Seasons, the Park Hyatt, the Hazelton Hotel, the Windsor Arms Hotel, the Residence on Bay and the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel.
There are many offices and professional services. Notable companies/organizations include the Retail Council of Canada, Canada Post, IBMCanada, Alliance Atlantis, Famous Players, Paramount Pictures, Showcase Television, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Unilever and the consulates of several nations.
MTV Canada headquarters are located in Yorkville as well. Canada’s largest museum and the fifth largest in North America, the Royal Ontario Museum is located at the intersection of Bloor and Avenue Rd. The area north of Bloor St. on Cumberland and Yorkville contain petite streets with cafes, restaurants and specialty boutiques. It resembles more of a European style district.
Yorkville is home to some of Toronto’s most expensive condominiums, most starting at over one million dollars and going well beyond, including: The Prince Arthur, Renaissance Plaza, 10 Bellair, One St. Thomas, Windsor Arms Hotel, The Hazelton Hotel & Residences, Hazelton Lanes.
- Bloor Street Transformation Project
Begun in 2008, the Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area and the City of Toronto are updating the street-scape from Church Street to Avenue Road. The objective is to create an enhanced pedestrian experience with widened sidewalks, mature trees, flower gardens, modern lighting and public art.
Founded in 1830 by entrepreneur Joseph Bloore (after whom Bloor Street, one of Toronto’s main thoroughfares, is named) and William Botsford Jarvis of Rosedale, Toronto, the Village of Yorkville began as a residential suburb. Bloore operated a brewery north-east of today’s Bloor and Church Street intersection. Jarvis was Sheriff of the Home District. The two purchased land in the Yorkville district, subdividing it into smaller lots on new side streets to those interested in living in the cleaner air outside of York. The village grew enough to be connected by an omnibus service in 1849 to Toronto. By 1853, the population of the village had reached 1,000, the figure needed to incorporate as a village and the Village of Yorkville was incorporated. Development increased and by the 1870s, Potter’s Field, a cemetery stretching east of Yonge Street along the north side of Concession Road (today’s Bloor Street) was closed, and the remains moved to the Necropolis and Mount Pleasant cemetery.
By the 1880s, the cost of delivering services to the large population of Yorkville was beyond the Village’s ability. It petitioned the City of Toronto to be annexed. Annexation came on February 1, 1883, and Yorkville’s name changed officially from “Village of Yorkville” to “St. Paul’s Ward” and the former “Yorkville Town Hall” became “St. Paul’s Hall”. The character of the suburb did not change and its Victorian-style homes, quiet residential streets, and picturesque gardens survived into the 20th century. In 1923, Toronto Hebrew Maternity and Convalescent Hospital was opened at 100 Yorkville Avenue and a year later the name was changed to Mount Sinai Hospital. The facade of this building still stands today and houses retailer Teatro Verde.
In the 1960s, Yorkville flourished as Toronto’s bohemian cultural centre. It was the breeding ground for some of Canada’s most noted musical talents, including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot, as well as then-underground literary figures such as Margaret Atwood,Gwendolyn MacEwen and Dennis Lee. Yorkville was also known as the Canadian capital of the hippie movement. In 1968, nearby Rochdale College at the University of Toronto was opened on Bloor Street as an experiment in counterculture education. Those influenced by their time in 1960s-70s Yorkville include cyberpunk writer William Gibson. Its domination by hippies and young people led MPP Syl Apps to refer to it as “a festering sore in the middle of the city” and call for its “eradication.”
- Transition into high-end shopping district
After the construction of the Bloor-Danforth subway the value of land nearby increased as higher densities were allowed by the City’s official plan. Along Bloor Street, office towers, the Bay department store and the Holt Renfrew department store displaced the local retail. As real estate values increased, the residential homes north of Bloor along Yorkville were converted into high-end retail, including many art galleries, fashion boutiques and antique stores, and popular bars, cafes and eateries along Cumberland Street and Yorkville Avenue. Many smaller buildings were demolished and office and hotels built in the 1970s, with high priced condominium developments being built in the last decade or so.