Graffiti, gentrification and Toronto's lofty condo names -

Graffiti, gentrification and Toronto’s lofty condo names

Emma Teitel weighs in on the inflated monikers



I live in a rapidly gentrifying downtown Toronto neighbourhood, where the homeless sleep outside condo presentation centres, not because they are particularly cozy, but because there is almost literally no where else to go. Walking to my bus stop recently, I noticed someone had spray painted “Die Yuppie Scum,” onto the garish presentation centres and condo construction sites lining Queen Street West. Almost all of the graffiti was signed “A.”

I am not actively opposed to my city’s morphing skyline. The fact that I assumed “A” was a reference to the ABC Family series, Pretty Little Liars (I have since learned it is the official symbol of Anarchy) reveals the extent of my experience with Toronto’s anti-establishment. That’s not to say, however, that I don’t sympathize with its cause.

The truth is that the condos in Toronto are all but begging to be defaced, not because of the way they look—not even because of their complicity in the expensiveness of everything around them—but simply because of what they are called: Bohemian Embassy, One Valhalla, Quantum 2, Chaz, Epic, Mozo, Dragon, Origami, ART, Nero, and the space that could launch a thousand yurts: Yonge + Rich (conveniently located at Yonge and Richmond). Bruce Freeman, the executive vice president of Great Gulf homes—the company developing the proposed 50-storey building—has assured me that there is nothing unbecoming about the condo’s name: “We thought, internally, it meant young at heart and rich in possibilities.” Externally? He didn’t say, but I’m guessing, under 40 with a 401K.

This bout of anti-condo graffiti comes at an opportune time for Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who announced this week that he is “obsessed with getting graffiti out of the city and keeping it out of the city.” I hope this obsession, like some of his others, is prematurely squelched. I like the graffiti in my neighbourhood and the crass rebranding of condo presentation centres. It won’t uproot the billion Toronto condos under construction or raze the ones already here (which is good, because I live in one). And it won’t save Honest Ed’s (an “eyesore” according to Canadian condo mogul Brad J. Lamb, the man behind the architectural marvels of SoBa and Gotham). But it will solidify in ink something that we can all agree on–condo hater or not–when it comes to the neon monikers that mark our city’s skyscrapers: They are offensively stupid.

Jun. 21, 2017: This article has been revised.

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Graffiti, gentrification and Toronto’s lofty condo names

  1. “…under 40 with a 401K.”
    You mean for U. S. citizens only? Please, the Americanization of Canada is happening fast enough without using allusions to the U. S. tax code in the blogs of “Canada’s National Magazine.”

  2. Condo-dwellers are “the establishment”? LOL. Try Rosedale.

    I wish there were some easy way to bet against this insane market. I give it eight months, then kablooie.

    • I wish that there was a legal way to halt, cease, and desist the building of these behemoths, or at least get them built only in Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, East York, and York where they really belong-I moved up to downtown Toronto in 1994 to get away from this blandness, and now it’s encroaching here too! Eventually, nobody will want to visit or even live in Toronto because of all of this bullshit-then where will we be as a city?

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  4. I get that “…under 40 with a 401K.” is better copy than “…under 40 with an RRSP.” but come on, Toronto is still part of Canada.

    • And what is a “presentation center”? A sales office?

      • Yes. Often with full scale mockups of suites, or suite features.

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    • Now they want to play Picaboo with your children education, so they grow up never being able to see the woods from the trees

  6. One has to wonder, if these people can’t do the maths, how can they be
    incharge of the economy. They claim they want to give people money to
    buy new homes, with what, where is the jobs that is going to help them
    to pay back these loans, the Jobs don’t exist. So what are these people
    planning? They are planning to create the same sub-prime that caused
    homes in America to be worth nothing, and those who can’t pay their
    mortgages thrown out onto the streets, if you can’t see it you’re blind.

  7. Trapped in the grip of death, your house you brought will be worthless,
    unless you’re growing food, own it outright, & can pay your property
    tax. Whats the total TRAP, you own nothing unless you can pay the TAX.
    The writing was already on the wall. Look at the system, and anaylise
    it, look at the pit falls, policies written by the Devil himself.
    Everything is a TRAP of one sort or another, either political,
    economical, socal. Voting is a waste of time whats required it to get
    out of the system.

  8. I remember the first time I laughed out loud at a condo development’s name: the “Tribeca Lofts”. North on Don Mills for god’s sake.

    • At least, it was there and not in downtown Toronto. I’d much rather have these behemoths there than here, where they can displaces classic things like Honest Ed’s.

  9. Toronto is cursed since it is a large financial centre. The people in the top echelons of the banks, the brokerage houses, the insurance companies can afford to pay top dollar. This makes cities such as London, New York, and Toronto almost unaffordable for the ordinary person.

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    • What on earth does your comment have to do with this column? You are in the wrong thread.