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Temperance Street gets less temperate, more fun

Temperance Street.

If  you’ve been to lower Yonge Street at any point this summer, you’ll have noticed that Temperance Street, located just north of Adelaide, has utterly changed.

It used to be a side street. At some point, there was a café there haunted mostly by bike couriers. It was the sort of street that even native downtowners might not be able to place if it came up in conversation (which, naturally, it never would).

But thanks to developer Clayton Smith, it’s now the place to be on lower Yonge.

With Dineen Café right on the corner, backed up by The Chase Fish & Oyster and, upstairs, the higher-end Chase (with its rooftop balcony), all with sidewalk patios, the street is precisely what Woodcliffe wants Market Street to be, and what MOD Developments wants for St. Nicholas Street, part of its Five St. Joseph development, to be: A lively, populated street that serves both the developer’s building and becomes a neighbourhood hub. The fact that Smith has succeeded ought to give hope to those other developers, and also raise the bar for them.

"It's tough to find those unique destinations in the core," Smith says. "King West has that kind of feel, and by the Mirvish buildings, but not in the core really. That was the vision."

One of the reasons it’s so populated is that the renovation, a pristine example of adaptive reuse, was done so thoroughly and so well.

"We had some tremendous trades on the site," Smith says, quick to point out where that particular portion of the credit is due. "The copper work was amazing."

Some of the other credit goes to architect George Robb and Empire Restoration.

But it's Smith's baby, and his wheelhouse. He's also the guy who recently bought the Flatiron Building from the city’s other prominent restorative developer, Woodcliffe.

It's not the most profitable way of going about developing a site. Smith admits it would have been cheaper to tear the 117-year-old building down and put up something more straightforward. He even found a 2009 demolition permit issued to a previous owner. (Phew.)

But he’s not interested in that kind of developing. He even refused Starbucks' enthusiastic offer to take the corner space from him on very favourable terms, and leased it to John Young to make the Dineen Café, named for the building, itself named for its original owner and occupier, W. and D. Dineen Co. hatters and furriers.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Clayton Smith
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