Spreading the Wealth

Will the Danforth’s East End Ever Blossom?

By Chantal Arseneault-Lewis

The Danforth is an area cheap jerseys known for its progressive politics, its focus on organic and holistic living and its tightly bonded communities. Greektown on the Danforth was wholesale jerseys established in 1972 as a commercial and tourist destination. Greektown proper stretches between Broadview and Donlands subway stations with its centre at Chester Avenue. The area is undeniably prosperous and businesses get an annual economic boost when over one million people visit the Danforth’s stores and restaurants during the Taste of the Danforth summer festival. However, the same success and longevity has not been experienced for those businesses situated east of Pape Avenue.

According to Toronto Life’s Real Estate Guide, the area on and south of the Danforth between Pape and Greenwood Avenues has “serious structural problems that hold this area back from blossoming in the same way as its surrounding neighbourhoods have… The only real retail area the district can claim is a less-than-prosperous section of the Danforth.”

Toronto-Danforth Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Peter Tabuns has lived in the area since the early seventies and witnessed how the neighbourhood slowly transformed into its current incarnation. He credits the area’s development to the Danforth Village Business Improvement Area (BIA), an organization aimed at stimulating local business and attracting people to the area. Despite the BIA’s best efforts, they have focused their attention to only a centralized area of the Danforth, leaving the businesses east of Pape struggling to catch up and share in the success.

Lifetime resident Helen Lewis raised her (now adult) children on Logan Avenue. “It wasn’t until the nineties that I really noticed the development,” she said. “The Broadview–Pape area of the Danforth was a deliberate act by the Greek community to express their pride of their national heritage. In doing so, they’ve created a unique blend of services that are attractive to the community, while providing a taste of a ‘Greek Village’ that attracts tourism.” Like wholesale mlb jerseys others, Lewis has also noticed the difference between the two areas east and west of Pape Avenue, however she believes that the lack of development and success east of Pape is deliberate. “I don’t think that the area from Pape-eastward will wholesale mlb jerseys be further developed with the help of the inzien Greek community. I think the [BIA] will only support the existing businesses. To extend the Greek Village would only saturate the area; businesses would fail.”

The lack of support for the area east of Pape has created an unsafe, struggling neighbourhood where the number of empty storefronts grows. “The Greektown end tends to have a lot more people on the street,” says MPP Tabuns. “This makes it a safer street where you get fewer problems in terms of street crime. At the other end, you tend to get more street crime. The street can be empty at night. Drug dealing Obavijest and prostitution are an issue.” Tabuns’ solution is to fill empty storefronts with the work of local artists. “I think that one strategy [to improve the neighbourhood] is to pursue the arts community to set up… when they come, colour comes with it, interest, coffee shops, and you can rebuild a street.”

Despite mixed opinions about whether the area will be able to improve, it has experienced some changes over the past two years, most notably with the additions of the Shoppers Drug Mart and Starbucks Coffee between Pape and Jones Avenue. For some, like storeowner Ron Duffy, this change Hello was a sign for him to move his business to the eastern side of the Danforth. Duffy is the owner of Circus Books & Music, an cheap mlb jerseys eclectic used book and music store that opened in June 2008. “I knew that I wouldn’t go past Donlands, and I probably never really considered going anywhere near Pape because this kind of store works in a funkier type of place. I can’t pay too much on rent.” Duffy liked the potential of his new location. “It’s been better than where I was in Cabbagetown, there’s been terrific potential because we’re on the subway line, which is hard to come by. Outside of being located on Yonge Street, with outrageous rent, there is basically SHOWROOM! no other street that has a retail environment quite like the Danforth. It’s a long strip; it doesn’t confuse anybody. The Danforth just says ‘commerce.’”

Although the neighbourhood has seen some growth in the past two years, Tabuns and others believe that there is still much more that needs to be done if the area east of Pape is to be developed, especially east of Donlands Avenue. “[Businesses] have a good solid population base and a street that has the potential to grow and be very attractive.” For others like Duffy, less change is better, “I think that slow, righteous change is the best.”

Photos contributed by Chantal Arseneault-Lewis


  • mdrimoussis

    Have lived just off the Danforth and seen the transformation from the 60’s, till 2009. Everything is just a stone throw away.
    It is the best neighbourhood form children to the elderly alike. The Danforth is the answer all one needs, and wants. A truly complete (village) neighborouhood.

  • Rebecca Laing

    Although it is still a work in progress, east of Pape is far from being a crime-ridden wasteland of urban decay. It is also unrealistic to expect the Greektown BIA to elevate the entire Danforth to be a tourist destination; building successful retail pockets that serve adjacent communities is certainly attainable, and there are already examples of such success in these neighbouring Danforth Mosaic and Danforth Village BIAs. Not to say that there is nothing to attract non-locals to the ‘eastern’ Danforth – I would just as soon drive from afar to enjoy an evening at Sarah’s, Relish, or 10 Feet Tall (all near Greenwood or Woodbine), as I would at most of the Greektown restaurants.

    As a BIA, the Danforth Mosaic (the first BIA to the east of Pape) is large and very new, so it might take it a bit of time, but I expect it to flourish…just maybe a bit differently from Greektown.

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