Why West Queen West Is The Coolest Street In Toronto
West Queen West, the stretch between Bathurst Street and Gladstone Avenue dotted with indie shops and galleries, boutique hotels, and trendy restaurants/bars, is Toronto’s coolest street. So says Cushman & Wakefield’s first-ever Cool Streets of North America report. WQW beat out Kensington Market and Distillery District for the honour. What’s driving the street's coolness? All the condos cropping up around it, bringing Millennials to the area in droves, says Cushman's investment sales / retail services SVP Philip Traikos. “They have to shop somewhere, and they’re not going to the mall.”
Philip points to a growing roster of retailers coming to West Queen West in pursuit of Millennials. Online outfits like Warby Parker (684 Queen St W) and Frank and Oak (735 Queen St W) chose WQW for their first brick-and-mortar stores in the city, as did Kit and Ace (779 Queen St W). Some retailers who'd been farther east on Queen West migrated across Spadina, notes Philip. John Fluevog moved into the former TD Bank space at 686 Queen St W (below). It’s located opposite another recent WQW arrival: Anthropologie, housed in an old church (cool means respecting the neighbourhood fabric).
Cool streets serve as incubators for new retail concepts, says Cushman’s retail research VP, Garrick Brown. They attract consumers with offerings not found everywhere else. Cool translates into higher rents, too, notes Philip. Rates along West Queen West have tended to be anywhere from a quarter to half of those found in the tonier eastern stretch of Queen West ($30 to $60/SF versus $120/SF). But WQW's rents are moving up as the area gains mainstream appeal. Philip's seen deals lately that are closer to $80/SF for prime properties. "It's on a serious upswing.”