York-Eglinton Business Improvement Area: Party Planning & Cultural Cuisine

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April 7, 2015

York Eglinton BIA office

The York-Eglinton BIA Office ~ 605 Oakwood Avenue ~ 416-789-1835

The York-Eglinton area is extremely diverse, yet it is also quite the destination for weddings and special events. From Eglinton Fashions (1696 Eglinton Ave. W.) and Latina LTD (1608 Eglinton Ave. W.) carrying beautiful ball gowns for weddings and proms, to a variety of florists that can support weddings large and small and fine jewelry stores for that perfect ring, the shops in the York-Eglinton neighbourhood have become a sort of one-stop shop for brides, graduates and party goers. The area is also known for beauty services, and has more than 30 hair and nail salons.   

Originally started in 1981, the York-Eglinton BIA was reformed in 1999 by a small group of business owners to re-establish a voice for the business community in partnership with the City of Toronto. The group began a new value program to upkeep the look and image of individual stores and the surrounding area. The goal was to create a greater pride toward the York-Eglinton BIA.

The York-Eglinton BIA has gone through some growing pains and in 2007, its western boundaries were realigned to focus on a more condensed grouping of businesses. This remodel has allowed the BIA to build stronger community ties and a stronger community image. The BIA now serves businesses along Eglinton Avenue West between Marlee Avenue and Dufferin Street, and along the north side of Dufferin to Whitmore Avenue.  

York Eglinton BIA map

A little known fact about the area is that it is actually a huge spot for late night eats. After a night of clubbing downtown, kids come to the area to eat in the wee hours of the morning. There are several late night places, such as Spence’s Bakery (1539 Eglinton Ave. W.; open 24 hours on weekends), Rap’s (1541A Eglinton Ave. W.; open until 6 a.m.) and Hot Pot Restaurant (1545 Eglinton Ave. W.; open until 2 a.m.).

Some of the must-try places in the area include savoury patties at Randy Take-Out (1569 Eglinton Ave. W.) and the always authentic Columbian flavours at Toronto Latino (1786 Eglinton Ave. W.).

 York Eglinton pic - flowers

Did you know? Flowers are planted by the York-Eglinton BIA every spring!

In addition to promoting the area and its businesses, the York-Eglinton BIA provides support through marketing, recruiting businesses, improvements to the streetscape and amenities, hosting special events and installing seasonal decorations. 

The York-Eglinton BIA also oversees the improvement and beautification of properties, land, buildings and structures within their boundaries. The BIA plays a role in communicating with businesses about activities that may impact them. Specifically, the BIA is working with Metrolinx to install signage to let people know where the future Crosstown stations will be.

Gallery City is one example of a beautification project that captures the dialogue among the community in visual form. It is a partnership between the York-Eglinton BIA and Hogtown Mascots, which produces mascot characters, costumes, sets, props and accessories for schools, theatre, and marketing campaigns throughout North America. Through this partnership, local artists are recruited to beautify the windows of vacant storefronts until they are occupied. 

Gallery City Pic 1

Gallery City Pic 2

Vacant store windows are beautified by the Gallery City Project

The BIA invests a lot of time planning and coordinating the annual York-Eglinton International Street Festival, which brings 5,000 visitors to the area. It has something for the whole family:  Activities for kids, sidewalk sales, buskers, magicians; it’s just a great time for all! 

As the nature of business and the way people shop evolve, the businesses of York-Eglinton are adapting as well. Some businesses, for example, are implementing Google 360, which gives customers a virtual tour of the store online. This new feature will help to entice potential customers to visit the stores. 

The area has certainly grown and evolved over the years, making it a hidden jewel in the city. As the Chair of the BIA, Nick Alampi, notes, “This is an older neighbourhood with many buildings grandfathered in; this is the last pocket that’s steps from Forest Hill with affordable real estate, so this is a really great neighbourhood to invest in.” 

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