What Do We Think About “Honest Ed’s?”


4 minute read

July 19, 2013

This topic is #Trending!  Geez, I can’t believe I went there…

But regardless of the medium in which you’ve heard the news, this story truly is everywhere!


I’m almost 33 years old, and I have never been inside Honest Ed’s.  At least, not that I know of…

Perhaps at some point, on a school trip twenty-five years ago, I ventured into the Toronto landmark.  But no part of me in my adult life has said, “Hmmmm…..I think this Saturday afternoon, I might go look for a pair of 99-cent pants.”

I love Mirvish Village though.  It’s full of unreal restaurants and bars; Southern Accent playing the home to several pretty important events in the lives of my close group of friends.  There’s also a great Korean BBQ place on the north side of Bloor, that we refer to as “The Place,” for lack of a better description, since we don’t know the name, or the address, but we know where it is.  Aren’t those restaurants the best?

But alas, this might all come crashing down.

By now, you have all heard through Twitter, Facebook, every Toronto newspaper, and CP24 playing over and over in your dentist’s office that the corner of Bloor & Bathurst is up for sale, and there certainly can’t be doubt in anybody’s mind that this thing WILL sell!  If Scotia Plaza can sell for $1 Billion in only a few months, then surely Honest Ed’s will be gone even quicker.

I have yet to find any identifiable asking price for the property; just speculation.  I’m sure there’s no set price, and the Mirvish family will hold an auction/tender, but I’m curious as to people’s guesses on price.

The parcel of land is a whopping 4.45 acres (by my calculations), and an acre of prime downtown Toronto real estate these days is probably $20,000,000 and that’s a ballpark estimate (depends on location, of course).

The infamous One Bloor sold for $63,000,000 back in 2007, and then was re-sold to Great Gulf Homes in 2009 for a cool $53,000,000.  That site is barely one acre in size, although it’s at quite possibly the second busiest intersection of Toronto (assuming Yonge/Dundas is the 1st), so we can’t really use that as a benchmark.

So what is the entire Mirvish Village worth?  $50 Million?  $200 Million?  It’s anybody’s guess, but I’d split the difference and call it $100 Million.

I’m more interested in what is going to be built there, and I think that’s what most of the chatter is about.

I honestly (no pun intended) don’t believe that most Torontonians are all shook up about losing this “landmark.”  It’s the same argument I made with Casa Loma a while back.  Toronto residents would be up in arms if a condo developer purchased Casa Loma, with intentions of turning it into a giant pile of money, and yet how many Torontonians visit Casa Loma on a regular basis?  Have YOU been to Casa Loma in the past decade?

A lot of Toronto’s heritage is worth preserving, no doubt.

I live in the St. Lawrence Market area, which is undeniably where “Toronto” was born.  Some of the buildings down here are over 150-years-old, and they have character, history, and they add to the streetscape of our city.

Can you say the same for Honest Ed’s?

Can you say that a giant eyesore with flashing lights and crappy product is “worth preserving?”

Don’t shoot the messenger here – I’m just providing the counter-argument here.  I’m the first person to say, “My God, I hope it’s not going to be another condo,” but really, what else do you expect?

I have a good friend – one of my groomsmen, in fact, who is a bit of a “lefty.”  He frequently posts messages on Facebook, which are then commented on by some of his wildly (Occupy Toronto?) left-leaning friends, and, well, in the spirit of honesty, I’ll admit that sometimes I enjoy posting messages just to antagonize them.  When it came to Honest Ed’s, and some of their unbelievably naive and ridiculous suggestions such as, “I hope somebody buys it and turns it into a museum,” or “Somebody should buy it and just leave it be for Toronto folks to enjoy,” I couldn’t help but post, “Are any of you naive enough to think, even for one fleeting moment, drenched in hope and desire, that this won’t be 60-storey condo in a decade?”

You can probably guess as to what kind of responses my message received.

I wish the world was a “better place,” where some magic balloon filled with money dropped from the sky, and allowed a very cool and very historic landmark like Honest Ed’s to remain as such, but it’s just not going to happen.  The price of land in downtown Toronto is at astronomical levels, and the Mirvish family can make a lot more money selling this plot of land than they can selling socks for eighty-cents.

And look at their track record?

Don’t forget – David Mirvish is the one who wants to build three 80-storey towers on top of the Princess of Wales Theatre!

Aren’t we naive to think that there’s a place for Honest Ed’s in today’s Toronto?

Is anybody really surprised that this legend is coming to an end?

I’ll be honest – I couldn’t care less about the building itself.  It’s Mirvish Village that I’m upset about.

Just to give you some background, here’s a map of the area, courtesy of Toronto Star:


If we lost the two large structures that house the “Honest Ed’s” warehouse that we’re familiar with, I wouldn’t be upset.

But to lose all those restaurants, art galleries, and stores in the beautiful Victorian houses on Markham Street would be a shame.

I’m not convinced that the city will allow the entire block to be bulldozed, but it’s not out of the question to see the same fumbling-morons who can’t put a shovel in the ground for a new subway to allow a massive redevelopment of both residential and commercial lands, with streets running in between them!

There’s going to be a three-year “transition period” for the businesses in those Victorian houses, so consider that a silver lining, I suppose.

But when can we expect to know what’s in store for this gigantic parcel of land that encompasses an entire city block?  I don’t think we’re going to know for a while.

This is an unprecedented development, and it could take 3-5 years for the eventual buyer-developer to go through city zoning, committe of adjustments, and clear all the hurdles necessary to build what is likely going to change the face of the area as we know it.  Then perhaps another 3-5 years to build, and all told, we’re looking at upwards of a decade before the “future” of Mirvish Village is finally upon us…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. ScottyP

    at 8:37 am

    I’m confused… do you think the sale of Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village is a good thing, a bad thing, an inevitable thing, or something that should be stopped?

    (Welcome back, by the way!)

  2. Geoff

    at 11:18 am

    Personally I’d love anything but a condo building. Here’s a thought: a big park, some executive houses (not condos), some mixed retail, an upscale restaurant, and the like. Just not another blah condo. Or if they do a condo, something interesting and unique that also either fits in with the neighbourhood, or becomes an iconic / ironic part of it – ie the really tall minto towers at yonge and eglinton don’t fit in, but actually work in the neighbourhood in my opinion (others vary).

    1. BillyO

      at 1:32 pm

      Well those Minto towers won’t look so out of place now that E Condos at 58 (194 metres, a good 110 feet taller than the taller of the two Mintos) and 36 stories was approved today. Josh Matlow has really had a crappy last few days, first with Ford punking him on LRT and now that

  3. BillyO

    at 1:25 pm

    There won’t be a massive 60 storey condo here, but they will get 8-12 stories but a ton of units (500+) in order to make the $100M price tag viable. This, much like Sam The Record Man is a part of TO history, but I’d much rather celebrate the man, Mirvish, and his profound impact on TO than this building.

    Casa Loma should one day become the Museum of Toronto (won’t be for at least a decade though). Honest Ed’s should be enshrined there.

  4. JG

    at 5:06 pm

    At first I was let down by the news – as a child I spent many a days there. And you cant dislike the free turkeys on Thanksgiving day. In a small way, they did give something back.
    But being a realist, I think its about time. The tacky ’80’s are behind us and its just so out of place.

    Now what to do with the land? I like the idea above – space for a park and maybe some walk up brownstones. Just not another Condo for crying out loud! 🙂

  5. AndrewB

    at 5:23 pm

    Personally don’t think they should be sold. It’s just such a part of TO that it’s a landmark in itself. What would be cool is updating it perhaps with a mix of thrift and upscale shopping. Or make some cool street level shopping and dining and make the little Mirvish Village into a destination for residents and tourists.

    Honestly, I don’t want to see another condo, especialyl there. TO needs to cool down on the crane operations. So much more potential could be had with the space than a generic, bland condo.

    1. Phil

      at 2:56 pm

      it is not any landmark. People elsewhere visits landmarks. Do you know anyone from outside town who says “I need to visit Honest Ed’s”?? no. I myself never go there, do you? And a low rise buildings definitely is a gigant waste of downtown space. Tear it down completely and build something nicer.
      A condo maybe bland, but this thing is worse.


    at 6:46 pm

    Well, I have a great idea for the property….now I don’t own it and have very little understanding of real estate economics but yes, I do have my very own ideas of what SHOULD be done with the property. Here goes: I’d like to see five 100-story towers that resemble the worst towers in cityplace. Each tower will be exactly identical in every respect. Further, the base of the towers should house the world’s largest Wal-Mart.

    1. ScottyP

      at 12:09 pm

      That’s a very Toronto-esque idea, FRBYWA! No doubt our esteemed city planners are thinking along the exact same lines.

  7. Phil

    at 2:51 pm

    I would say even a 60 story condo is better that his 2 story dreadful thin. Just because it is kind of famous among locals doesn’t mean it defines Toronto and should stay. It is not history, it is not heritage. It is just a giant discount store, similar to a Walmart. People, deal with it.

    The entire Bathurst street, supposedly part of downtown, looks so crappy north of Queen. It is bland, it is boring with horrible looking single family houses reminding us of a suburban Queens, NY, not downtown Toronto. The entire bathurst st should be rezoned for commercial and midrise/highrise residential buildings, put something more interesting there, restaurants, department stores, pubs, theatres, instead of the current sububan houses that nobody ever visits.

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