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Eastern Premises: SmartCentres Reworks Its Studio Proposal

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A whole new story is being pitched for the film-studio hub of Leslieville's Eastern Avenue. In 2009, months of organized neighbourhood pushback helped scuttle big-box retail developer SmartCentres' plans for the underused lands on the south side of Eastern; outraged locals were opposed to the inevitable flood of traffic and the siphoning away of business from small local shops. They argued that any new jobs promised by SmartCentres would be low-paying retail work, versus the higher-paying skilled jobs that had been provided by the film industry. The Ontario Municipal Board's veto of the big-box proposal had Leslievillers rejoicing four years ago, but since then not much has happened down on Eastern.

SmartCentres owns Revival 629, the film studio at 629 Eastern that's at the heart of the newest application to Council; back in the 2000s Revival's former incarnation, Toronto Film Studios, turned out major pictures like David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. Rather than a big-box plaza (similar to the one on Laird Avenue, south of Eglinton Avenue) the new plan actually proposes to build the film complex up by connecting it to a ten-storey office building, several retail buildings, and a hotel. Will this new production be more in line with the neighbourhood's hopes for Eastern Avenue, or does SmartCentres have another flop on its hands?

· Boxed Out: OMB Dismisses Big Box Development in Leslieville [BlogTO]
· Toronto's film and television industry soars to new heights [Toronto Star]
· Film studio turned police centre [CBC]