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The Entertainment District

The Entertainment District – prestigious destination on the rise

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The Entertainment District – prestigious destination on the rise

Long a hot spot filled with some of the city’s best theatres and restaurants, Toronto’s Entertainment District is in full-on transition mode – into also becoming one of the most prestigious condo destinations.

Indeed, if you haven’t been to the Entertainment District lately, you’re in for quite the surprise. You might not even recognize this booming neighbourhood.

Play, eat and live

Yes, the same Entertainment District punctuated by landmarks such as Roy Thompson Hall, the Princess of Wales Theatre, and Canada’s Walk of Fame, known as a place to play and eat, is now becoming known as a place to live.

With big name developers such as Great Gulf, Empire Communities and Plaza building signature projects in the area, the neighbourhood is alive with redevelopment. Population growth is on the rise, not just from new residents, but also from new businesses and an expanding bar and restaurant scene.

Born in the 1990s essentially as an entertainment and tourist hub, with a burgeoning nightclub scene elbowing its away among the existing theatres and restaurants, the early 2000s brought the first wave of a condo boom.

More recently, SoHo Metropolitan Hotel & Residences, Festival Tower, and Bisha Hotel and Residences are among some of the notable condo projects that are up and running.

Abuzz with excitement

One key cultural attraction, TIFF Bell Lightbox, opened in 2010 on the northwest corner of King Street and John Street. The first five floors of this 42-storey tower serve as headquarters for the Toronto International Film Festival, while the Festival Tower residences sit atop. With TIFF Bell Lightbox serving as host to countless international stars and pre-screenings during the annual festival, the area is often abuzz with excitement.

Add to this, more recent landmark developments such as Nobu Residences, being built by Madison Group, and you have an expanding array of notable residential opportunities.

Then there’s Wahlburgers (of the Wahlburgers restaurant chain and famed brothers Donny and Mark Wahlburg), and the popular Loose Moose and other hot spots… all of it a stone’s throw from the Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena, Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower and Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Transition to excellence

And more is on the way. Great Gulf is proposing Mirvish+Gehry, a two-tower condo project atop two six-storey stepped podiums with 85,000 sq. ft. of multi-level retail space. And CentreCourt is building No. 55 Mercer at the corner of Mercer Street and Blue Jays Way, the site of Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant.

All of it adds up to an area in transition indeed – to excitement and excellence.

Location, location, location

Bordered by Spadina Avenue, King Street West, University Avenue and Front Street.

Key landmarks

  • Roy Thompson Hall
  • Princess of Wales Theatre
  • TIFF Bell Lightbox
  • Rogers Centre
  • Wahlburgers

Select housing developments

101 Spadina by Great Gulf

101 Spadina by Devron Developments

Bungalow on Mercer by Kalovida

Central • 38 Widmer by Concord Adex

Empire Maverick by Empire Communities

Encore at Theatre District by Plaza

Four Eleven King Condominiums by Great Gulf

Four Eleven King Condominiums by Terracap

No 55 Mercer by CentreCourt


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Take Two: David Lynch

David Lynch is the ultimate disruptor of mainstream films

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David Lynch is the ultimate disruptor of mainstream films

No one has fully understood, properly analyzed or thoroughly dissected the life and times of American filmmaker David Lynch. For that, cinephiles are eternally grateful. We secretly yearn for surrealists, such as Lynch, to spin his elaborate tales because they defy gravity and turn logic into madness. Re-watch his television triumph Twin Peaks for all the giddy evidence you need. Plus, you get pie.

David Lynch
David Lynch

We need his cryptic mysteries because they do not always get solved in routine ‘whodunit’ ways. Re-experience Blue Velvet, his early cinematic masterpiece. Plus, you see the late Dennis Hopper, as the ultimate method actor, doing his career-best performance.

Blue Velvet (1986)
Blue Velvet (1986)

Finally, we value an artist who is the ultimate disruptor, because most mainstream filmmakers are now obliged to be mundane conformists by their Hollywood bosses. Reevaluate Mulholland Drive, Lynch’s mature masterwork, in this context. Plus, you get a dizzying trip into the machinations of old Hollywood.

Now 73, Lynch is in another lull in production since his successful return to Twin Peaks in 2017. No matter, something wonderful and/or weird is sure to happen. And, we are allowed more time to contemplate his universe. Not incidentally, in July and August, the Toronto International Film Festival launches David Lynch: The Big Dream at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Setting out to chart ‘the director’s ascension from cult favourite to cultural icon,’ TIFF will screen the features Eraserhead (1977), The Elephant Man (1980), Dune (1984), Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Lost Highway (1997), The Straight Story (1999) and Mulholland Drive (2001).

The Elephant Man (1980)
The Elephant Man (1980)

TIFF’s Brad Deane, who curated The Big Dream, has also lined up some of Lynch’s provocative shorts. These include his student-era drama, The Grandmother, the strange story of a neglected boy who, from a seed, grows his own grandmother as a caregiver. The ‘seeds’ of Lynch’s future work are found here.

But why now at TIFF? “For me,” says Deane. “It’s the new Twin Peaks series that triggered this – just seeing how relevant it all is and how innovative he still is as an artist. The lure is the mix of the most traditional forms of filmmaker with the avantgarde. So it is a good time to go back and revisit all the work.”

The Straight Story (1999)
The Straight Story (1999)

Meanwhile, no one who has ever met Lynch – and I interviewed him repeatedly for The Toronto Sun – has seen him without a cigarette. He’s a relentless chain-smoker. After 9/11, when stranded at the Toronto film fest, Lynch refused to join friends who offered him a lift home to New York in a non-smoking van. He waited until a smoking-friendly opportunity arose.

Puffing or not, Lynch is always charming. But every interview that I transcribed led to one conclusion: I still do not really know what goes on inside his mind. The inspiration that drew him into the sadomasochistic weirdness of Blue Velvet; the obsession with the road movie motif that led to such oddly diverse films such as Lost Highway and The Straight Story; his fascination with deformity that plunged him into The Elephant Man saga; these all eluded me.

And, yes, this is a good thing. Not all mysteries should be revealed.

Bruce Kirkland‘s career spans more than four decades, working as a film critic for The Toronto Star, The Ottawa Journal and for 36 years at The Toronto Sun.

A life-long film buff, Bruce now shares his passion and insight with Active Life readers.



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