Recently announced changes to the neighbourhood surrounding UTSG are unfortunate. The building in the Bloor-Annex area, which housed the Fox and Fiddle pub, a New York Fries restaurant, and a Holiday Inn, will be renovated into a branch of the luxury Kimpton Hotels chain, to be named the Kimpton Saint George.
The Fox and Fiddle pub was a much-favoured student haunt due to its karaoke nights. Come summer, however, it will be replaced by a gastropub that will serve as the hotel’s live-in dining. Given Kimpton Hotel & Restaurants’ ‘luxury’ tag, one doubts whether the gastropub will rival the Fox and Fiddle in terms of affordability for students. The hotel itself will include 188 hotel rooms, with 20 suites and one presidential suite, offering complimentary bikes, yoga mats in each room, and a fitness centre, among other services. None of these features seem to cater to students who make up much of the clientele in the Annex.
Kimpton Saint George claims that it will provide its clients with “an immersion into true Toronto — a sweet spot of culture and congeniality that captures the spirit of this dynamic and diverse neighbourhood.” Yet it is entirely possible that the development of this luxury hotel might give way to more upscale businesses, which in turn may eventually drive away the very members that make up the dynamic and diverse community that Kimpton is so concerned with.
The recent closing of places frequented by students in order to build luxury condos and hotels is another example of gentrification in the Annex neighbourhood. This gentrification will possibly alienate the members of the very community these luxury buildings want to commodify, including members of the student population. The developers of the hotel who claim to “love the indie Annex vibe” might eventually kill it if they are not careful.
Zeahaa Rehman is a third-year student at UTM studying Linguistics and Professional Writing and Communication.