A rendering of the 2 Ossington lofts.
When I walked by the corner of Queen and Ossington on Tuesday night and saw the scaffolding and sandwich board telling me to "smile", I assumed the old rooming house on the northwest corner was being appliquéd with Vespa heads or a collage of Contact photos. I hoped whatever artist or guerilla marketer was leaving his mark on the building would pay homage to the cutout of the naked man that scampers across the "Rooms for Rent" sign on the south side of its roof.
When I walked by on Wednesday night and saw the scruffy billboard team quickly bolting two story signage for the new 2 Ossington condo (warning, yuppie-friendly house muzak begins the second you click the link), I felt an inkling of Not On My Queen West-ism but that quickly turned into development apathy. The building has been abandoned for years. It looks like there's a gallery on the corner in the rendering. I need to make a reservation at Delux up the street at least two weeks before I plan on craving their Cubano. It was bound to happen.
Browsing the website at home before e-mailing its URL to my architect friends to get them all grumbley (like shooting fish in a barrel!), I started to click through the site's "Neighbourhood" section which includes addresses and storefront photos of the area's shops, galleries and restaurants.
There's Jacflash, the strip's swankiest recent addition whose owner admitted to me during our Store of the Week interview that he has visions of Queen West going Yorkville and that's why he bought in.
There is the new Fred Perry shop with windows so dark that I only notice it's the new Fred Perry shop when the night lights are too much for the glass to tint.
Noticeably absent is Planet Kid, a fantastic children's boutique that occupies the space that was once home to Willow Grant. Willow Grant was a Canadian designer consignment boutique where I worked during my self imposed, post journalism school, Toronto fashion industry immersion period (otherwise known as the time my parents wondered why they paid for Ryerson if I all I wanted to do was run a shop?). Anyways, perhaps the hip young things buying up lofts at 2 Ossington will be too cool for kiddies and might, in fact, be turned off by the idea that grown ups with offspring live and shop nearby.
As a teensy part of the group of retail pioneers who took a chance on this once rough-and-tumble stretch, it fascinates me that trailblazing businesses like Boutique Le Trou, Style Garage, Virgina Johnson and Studio Brillantine are now a marketing tool for the cool they starved to create.
If the new, childless residents of 2 Ossington become regular customers, we'll call it even.