By 2017, people walking past the Kingston Road Y will see a brand-new basketball court and pool right from the street.
“It’s like you’re at gallery level,” says local developer Bob Mitchell. “The idea is to make it very transparent and inviting to the neighbourhood.”
Above the new YMCA, Mitchell Lofts is building Beech House, a condo with 92 units ranging from 800 to 2,250 square feet.
It’s a unique partnership, said Mitchell, and it will allow the Y to significantly expand its Beach facility, which previously had a daycare and small gym.
Beech House buyers will also benefit, starting with a free two-year Y membership.
Mitchell said all the Beech House units are custom designed. Unlike a high-rise where architects are restricted by stacked plumbing and heating systems, the terraced building allows for more flexibility.
As for the interior finishes, the units include amenities like gas fireplaces and terraces and balconies that come ready for barbecues.
“That bar is constantly going up,” Mitchell said. “What happens when you’re looking at a maturing market is that people are looking for higher-end finishes.”
Another finishing touch is pure Beach and comes from Mitchell’s own experience – the building will have a dog wash station.
“We live just down the street from the building, and we used to walk our golden retriever up the Glen Stewart ravine all the time,” Mitchell said. “There’s a little creek that runs through the bottom of it, and by the time she got home she was caked in mud.”
Sales at Beech House began in June, largely by word of mouth, Mitchell said. About 80 per cent of the buyers are locals who either want to downsize or own their first home.
Asked what he likes about living in the neighbourhood, Mitchell said, “What’s not to like?”
Although he grew up in Toronto, Mitchell said he hadn’t been to the Beach much if at all until going down to the Victoria Day fireworks some 25 years ago.
“We came out the next Monday and bought a house.”
To find out more about Beech House, visit beechhousecondos.com.
Hélène Nicole found some unique inspiration for her new Kingston Road coffee shop, Café chez Hélène.
When Nicole closed down her previous business venture, she went on a cycling tour in Quebec. She said she prayed to whatever is up above for guidance on what to do with her space at 1437 Kingston Rd., just west of Warden Avenue.
And not to put too much pressure on the situation, but she wanted specifics.
“I said, ‘if you tell me what to do, tell me what to call it, too.’”
While avoiding the rain during the trip, she encountered a card with a painting that featured a storefront with a blue and white awning, not unlike her own. When she looked closely at the card’s artwork, she realized the sign read “Café chez Hélène,” and a coffee shop was born.
About a month after opening her doors, Nicole said the reaction from the local community has been outstanding.
“The people in the neighbourhood are very receptive, and they all say they badly needed a café,” she said.
Café chez Hélène serves multiple roles: a place to enjoy organic, shade-grown coffee, a place to practise speaking French, a place to take in a performance or class, and a gathering place for the French Canadian community, which had no similar spot east of Bathurst before the café opened. Nicole emphasizes that all staff, current and future, can speak French and English.
The café also offers a stage for music performances, and the walls host local art. Nicole, who has performed her educational French show more than 1,000 times in schools and cafés across the country, wanted to provide the opportunity for performers or anyone with a teachable skill access to the café.
“I really want to create a community café,” she said.
The “reality café” also has a YouTube channel, with events livestreamed online and archived for later viewing. This is also a boon for those teaching classes or looking for a spot to offer workshops.
Currently Café chez Hélène is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. when no events are taking place, but Nicole plans to eventually stay open to 11 p.m.
“I’m a Montrealler, I like to go for coffee at night,” she said.
While she offers a wide selection of baked goods, she’s also working on getting the kitchen licensed. Organic and sugar-free options will always be available.
Upcoming events include everything from a free group class on crocheting, to a karaoke night, to a flamenco concert and dance performance. For the full calendar of events and to stay up to date with Café chez Hélène, visit facebook.com/cafechezhelene. Anyone with a proposal for classes, workshops, a performance, or art for the walls is welcome to contact Nicole with their ideas.
East End clothing designer Oliver Dixon recently got a boost through a popular online video of the Ford brothers – yes, Rob and Doug – taking part in the ALS ice bucket challenge. In the video, Doug is seen wearing a black t-shirt with a distinctive white logo that reads ‘PRNCE.’
Dixon, 19, launched Prnce Clothing earlier this year, and officially opened up an online shop last month. While he’d been doing a decent amount of sales through social media channels, the endorsement from someone as high profile as a Ford was a sign to Dixon that he’s on the right path. Doug Ford even ordered some custom ‘Ford Nation’ shirts from Dixon.
“Considering I haven’t been around for long, things are going pretty well,” said Dixon.
The name Prnce is based on two somewhat dissimilar inspirations. Dixon said he wanted to do something to honour his grandfather’s English heritage. At the same time, he was also inspired by the Will Smith character from the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
“He’s one of the staples in the fashion industry for street culture,” he said.
Dixon has been working on promoting his brand non-stop, from regular posting on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to doing clothing giveaways at the Guvernment nightclub, tossing shirts from the DJ booth.
“The reaction has been very, very good. Everyone who’s seen it has really liked it,” he said.
Dixon is a few weeks into his first year in the fashion business program at George Brown College, where he will be learning, in part, about the work he’s already been doing. The head start he has on some of his classmates is no surprise for a young man who’s been working towards creating his own company since his elementary school days at Earl Beatty Public School.
“Ambition is definitely needed for this kind of job,” he said. “I always envisioned having a brand. In grade five I even had a brand. I didn’t really sell anything, I just kind of gave out t-shirts that my mom helped me make.”
The Study Studio is celebrating 15 years offering customized tutoring to students from Grade 3 to 12 in the Beach and East End.
Administrator Meredith Heyland said the service, started by two local teachers who still own the business, prides itself on creating an open, inviting atmosphere for students.
Time spent at the Studio might include any combination of homework practice and review, test preparation and techniques, discussion, assessment, or organizational assistance. And while the Studio’s learning environment is modelled on the benefits of consistency and stability, staff are able to accept last-minute requests.
Founders and owners Kim Rauch and Jennifer Wilson were both active teachers when they started the Studio, so they have a firsthand understanding of what tutoring can offer. Wilson currently runs the Studio full time, while Rauch is still teaching math and geography at the high school level.
Dealing with mostly students from the area means tutors and staff often know the teachers and teaching styles in local East End schools, which helps in developing the individualized approach each student receives. Most of the Studio’s growth has come from word of mouth over the last 15 years, from both clients and staff and teachers in those local schools.
Tutors are a mix of certified teachers, tutors with undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, or students working on their degrees. The relationships built on trust between students and tutors is in large part responsible for the success the Studio has had so far, said Heyland. Students develop a comfortable level of risk taking while learning to ask relevant questions.
“We try to help students find a way to see learning as fun, or something engaging and enjoyable,” she said.
The welcoming atmosphere includes a mix of students looking for some extra help and those looking to keep their grades high.
“It’s a combination of those who are wanting to improve their grades and keep up in the A-plus range, and others who are working with independent education plans or with learning disabilities and who are looking to find strategies and ways of keeping up with the school materials,” said Heyland.
The Study Studio will be holding an informal open house on Tuesday, Oct. 7 from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Anyone who wants to ask any questions or take a look at the location is welcome to stop by. A current promotion also offers a free session for every 10 purchased.
The Study Studio is at 1226 Kingston Rd., just east of Fallingbrook Road. For more information call 416-690-6116 or visit thestudystudio.com.