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Salsa no more

Thu Apr 19, 2007 Miss Vicky 

OK, so in the Enroute post I started to rant about the skyrocketing commercial rent rates on the Wellington West mainstreet. It's not just about the many vacant storefronts or the fact that my hairdresser may have to move to Westboro. Now my new favourite form of entertainment, weekly date night and fun baby exercise regime is gone.

Salsa Sueno's landlord has changed the locks and evicted the business. I had had some inkling this might happen, as Stella told us she was having difficulty with them. Then I got a call earlier this week giving me the heads up that classes would be cancelled until further notice. Then the notice appeared on the door. The good news: she is trying to find another location nearby for the baby salsa and other classes. The bad news: we've lost a great community resource and an asset to the mainstreet.

What exactly is the point of having an arts district if arts-related businesses can't afford to operate? I understand that property owners need to make a living but there has to be a way to ensure that new businesses have a fair shot at surviving. I am not exactly sure what some Hintonburg property owners think they are going to accomplish by keeping their storefronts vacant and in poor condition while expecting business owners to shell out rent that's more expensive than Westboro or other upmarket districts.

Some people were moved to reply

Big Bob Apr 19, 2007 04:42 PM said:

Yeah, I'm always amazed how commercial space can stay vacant for long, long times.

Do the folks who own these properties have pockets THAT deep?

The phenomenon you mention happens everywhere -- think of SoHo in New York, the North End of Halifax (to an extent), the North end of Winnipeg (might be wrong on this one) etc. Of course, that doesn't mean it's inevitable. It means we should try to learn from the mistakes and the good moves of other neighbourhoods like this.

Perhaps Lex Luthor with his thousand days of 21st century management techniques.

amckay Apr 19, 2007 05:27 PM said:

Aha, my son and I noticed on Tuesday that the Aikido mats were gone and the sign was down.

EDIT : went by again tonight on the way to Judo and read the sign. It basically just says they were evicted for not paying rent.

Do we actually know any detail here? Certainly the rent would not have been jacked up after the short period the dance studio were in there.

Very unfortunate situation in any case.

[Edited By amckay Apr 19, 2007 07:45 PM]

JMG Apr 20, 2007 09:08 AM said:

Speak to store owners about the high rents in Wellington Village and Hintonburg, and, sure, there are those who might complain about having to pay so much but they will also say that right now the place to be is Wellington Village. One local store owner, in fact, told me that he believes the area is potentially bigger than Westboro and maybe even bigger than the Glebe.

Of course, there are shopkeepers who might not be able to afford to stay, such as a neighbor of mine with a store on Wellington who pays $5000 a month for her location; or the owner I know whose store is in a prime location and is facing a big hike when the lease ends and does considers moving.

And take an acquaintance of mine, a young local Ottawa clothing designer, who sought to start a small hip boutique to sell her own designs in Hintonburg. It would be very similar to the type of shop found on Toronto's trendy Queen Street and perfect fit in an arts and cultural community. But, sad to say, you won't be seeing this designer's original clothing offered in this area. She got a commitment from the property owner but then at the last minute he changed the terms of the lease.

Commercial property owners might believe the hype about Wellington Village and Hintonburg and decide to hold out in the view that there's a buck to be made. But if rents go high as they are, will there be a day that a small-business entrepreneurial person like the clothing designer can even consider to locate in this area?

[Edited By JMG Apr 20, 2007 09:10 AM]

Matt Apr 20, 2007 04:53 PM said:

That's too bad about the Salsa Sueno. That space is going to need a lot of white paint before it gets rented again!

I noticed Anything Goes Antiques also closed up shop recently. I'm not sure if their rent increased, or the business wasn't thriving in that industrial side-street location.

I spent alot of time looking for space for our new (ad)venture, Ottawa Organics and Natural Foods, and really hoped to find affordable space in Hintonburg, but it didn't happen. There wasn't much available at a price we were willing to afford. Happily, we've just found an affordable, historic old building in Centertown to call home.

Richgold Apr 28, 2007 10:27 PM said:

I heard that Anything Goes still has a store location, it's just that it has moved out of town.

Miss Vicky Apr 29, 2007 07:53 AM said:

Yes, in Chelsea. Someone wrote me about it... you can get details on their website, I imagine. I was told that the owner lives out there and it's just more convenient for her.

amckay Apr 29, 2007 08:27 PM said:

So, rumour in the Aikido community (in Montreal of all places) is that the Salsa folks only paid the first month's rent and were after the Aikido dojo to cough up a few months.

But as any Aikidoka should know - there are always 3 sides to every story - your side, my side, and the truth.

[Edited By amckay Apr 29, 2007 08:28 PM]

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