It’s not always easy to find a neighbourhood that supports your individual balance of live/work/play, but we think the Bloor/Yonge neighbourhood comes pretty close. And the shopping? Oh, the shopping… !!
Granted there’s very little in-person shopping happening right now. As more cities are going under lockdowns, non-essential businesses are being ordered to close, and brands are having to adapt and be flexible to meet changing needs. and customers are generally avoiding public places. Limiting shopping for all but necessary essentials are becoming a new normal. But we ask you to cast your mind back – or perhaps forward! – to when we’ll be free to stroll the streets of Toronto again, gleefully swinging bags of purchases as we pass store window after store window!
Toronto’s ‘Millionaire Mile’ is a stretch of Bloor Street West between Yonge Street and Avenue Road that’s also often called the ‘Mink Mile’. (The irony is not lost on us, given what is happening in the world’s mink population right now!) This area is home to some of Canada’s most prestigious retailers, including the flagship locations for Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen. It is to Toronto what 5th Avenue is to New York. It serves the extremely wealthy – or those who love a designer label – and is heralded as Toronto’s most elegant shopping and dining area. In 2017, Bloor Street was named the 6th most expensive street in both the Americas. Moreover, the annual asking rent for prime retail space is currently 310 Canadian dollars per square foot, which makes the ‘Millionaire Mile’ the most expensive prime retail corridor in Canada.
It’s the only area in the city to have a dedicated expanse of granite sidewalks, elevating the street beyond that of a typical Toronto neighbourhood. The city goes to great expense to plant mature trees & flower gardens, and add modern lighting & public art! First-class designer boutiques, antique shops, and galleries dot the area, blending into the opulence of Yorkville to the North. This is where you’ll find some of the most coveted luxury brands sitting sided-by-side, including Tiffany, D&G, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Burberry, and Hermès. Even during the pandemic, while shops might be closed you can still bundle up, grab a coffee, and do some window shopping. Fantasizing about diamonds, bags, shoes, and living in a world of luxury.
As history tells it, back in the ’60s, this area bordered Yorkville which was then known as a hippie hangout that attracted famous singers and the folk music crowd – which goes to emphasizes just how dramatic a change this area has undergone. More recently the Millionaire Mile is embracing a new kind of transition, as explained in this article by Craig Patterson: “Bloor Street ‘Mink Mile’ Update: Transition Amid Retail Transformation“. Craig explains how the new super condos at the nexus of Yonge and Bloor (including 1 Bloor East, which now houses Canada’s 38,600 square foot Nordstrom Rack store) are not only changing the physical landscape but also the economic one, as the area becomes flooded with thousands of new residents. Moreover, there seems to be a push by large retailers – not necessarily considered luxury brands – to have representation in this internationally famous shopping district. Think brands like Roots, Winners, and Homesense.
As development continues, this shopping strip of the rich and famous- or those craving designer brand retail therapy will remain a “world-class retail destination”, but will house more of a mix of luxury and major-brand stores in flagship-sized retail spaces.
As we speak, the hub of the Millionaire Mile has recently completed a facelift, with the retail podium at mixed-use 110 Bloor Street West has undergone a transformation. Think opulence, with the façade incorporating dark metal finishes and gold patterned art. Striking, but also a subtle commentary on the elegant and elevated vibe that this shopping district exudes. With this construction, there will also be an opportunity for new retailers, which will no doubt increase Millionaire Mile’s portfolio of high-end retailers. Shoppers love choice! This facelift is significant, because 110 Bloor is described as “center ice” for the Millionaire Mile, and will undoubtedly set the tone, both with its prominent décor and with its tony tenants.
They are even making changes to the existing Winners store to make its décor in keeping with the luxe look of the street. Everything on the Millionaire Mile is luxe! The takeaway here is not just for stores but also shoppers: even if you don’t have lots of dollars to spend, you can still enjoy the experience of making Millionaire Mile purchases! There’s something for everyone, even’ if it’s dolled up to look – and make you feel – like a million bucks!
Image courtesy of NOW Toronto
Also notable, the Manulife Centre at 55 Bloor St. W underwent a massive $100M transformation that started way back in 2016, intended to create an additional 35,000 sq ft. of retail space. It was finally completed in 2019!
Anchoring this new space is Eataly! The Eataly concept incorporates “high-quality food at sustainable and reasonable prices for ALL, celebrate Italian biodiversity, and create an informal, natural, and simple place to eat, shop, and learn”- all under one roof. While indoor dining might not be do-able currently, food lovers can indulge at home with multiple take-out options.
The international boutique brand – with existing locations in Chicago, New York, and Dubai, amongst others – is a massive Italian food marketplace that aims to offer a completely unique shopping and dining experience. It will offer everything from groceries (local, international, and luxury brands) to prepared hot meals, to several restaurant and food counter experiences within the store. Eataly also offers private cooking classes, as well as educational courses on food, wine, nutrition, and more.
Eataly is a smart fit for the Millionaire Mile: a unique, elevated culinary shopping experience to compliment the neighbouring high-end designer boutiques. In it’s first few months last year, Eataly Toronto drew record crowds to its Manulife Centre!
It’s a wonder that the geography of the Millionaire Mile and neighbouring Yorkville is so geographically precise, and its borders so delineated. In fact, just around the corner from shops like Cartier on Bloor, you’ll find the tiny low-rent retail shops of Yonge. The National Post writes this amusing anecdote: “The Mink Mile has a Gucci. Yonge Street has the Spring Day Spa, where a pink poster advertises a $35 Brazilian wax. Bloor has a Hermes, home to the $990 Folklore d’Henri d’Origny scarf. On Yonge, there’s the Brass Rail, where lap dances sell for $20 a song.”
And yet, the exclusivity and popularity of Bloor’s elite shops and restaurants have never been stronger, regardless of the ever-changing neighbours on Yonge Street. As Millionaire Mile demonstrates, clustering begets clustering, and like calls to like! It’s as simple as that!
*Above photos courtesy of Bloor-Yorkville BIA, with thanks.
Despite the restrictions and regulations imposed by COVID-19, the shops of Bloor are still finding ways to prosper, and are here to stay!
Activities like wandering, window shopping, and indulging your inner fashionista or foodie are easy and accessible with this exclusive shopping experience right in your neighbourhood. If you lived at 86 Gloucester, you’d be just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Millionaire Mile!
Consider this 2bed, 2bath condo listing just four blocks from Bloor: A Timeless Two-Bedroom City Sanctuary On Gloucester Street offered for sale at $719,900!
Thanks for reading!
~ The Urbaneer Team
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-8000
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*Hero image courtesy of the Toronto Star