The Church Street drag bar's owner and landlord issued a joint statement to assuage a community backlash to the site's eventual redevelopment
Popular Gay Village party destination Crews & Tangos may be part of a future condo development.
A joint statement released on Tuesday (March 17), the club’s owner Michael Ramawad and property owner Graywood Developments said they are “exploring a joint plan aimed at maintaining a presence for Crews & Tangos in the future, new development.”
The pair also reminded the Church-Wellesley community that venue renewed its lease for two years, allowing the LGBTQ2S+ safe space to remain operational (COVID-19 interruptions notwithstanding).
Residents in the Church-Wellesley area took to social media after the Church-Wellesley Neighbourhood Association revealed the property the bar sits on – running 506 to 516 Church (at Maitland) – is slated to become a mixed-use retail and residential development. A Change.org petition to “Stop Crews & Tangos from becoming a condo” collected over 31,000 signatures.
“Over the past few weeks, the outpouring of emotion towards Crews & Tangos has been incredibly heartwarming,” Ramawad said in the statement. “It was the first place I was comfortable enough to come out and to live my truth. I’ve witnessed proposals, weddings, and people’s journeys as they discovered a place where they felt safe and accepted.
“Crews & Tangos means as much to me as it does to you, and together, with Graywood, we are committed to finding a solution to maintain this crucial space for the LGBTQ2S+ community,” he added.
“Since the beginning of this process, we’ve been very fortunate to listen to and learn from Michael,” added Graywood’s director of development Christine Yee. “While we understood the significance of this venue, Michael has deepened our appreciation about how valuable this space is for LGBTQ2S+ community members. Though we are still early in the process we are committed to working with Michael and the community to preserve and maintain the cultural heritage and legacy of Crews & Tangos.”
In January, Ward 13, Toronto Centre Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam introduced a motion at city council to support the retention and growth of independent LGBTQ2S+ owned and operated small businesses in the Village. The Crews & Tangos development became another occasion for the councillor to encourage constituents to sign her petition to protect the Village’s safe, cultural spaces.
According to their statement, Ramawad will stay involved with Graywood’s community consultations before a development proposal is submitted to the city.