My Diamond & Coal Awards: November 2011


Diamond Award Winner:

Borealis Grillehouse & Pub

Borealis Grillehouse & Pub

At times, I could be accused of being too downtown-centric. I’m not but it is where I spend most of my time. But this month, I go all the way out old King Street E. for our Diamond Award winner: Borealis Grillehouse & Pub in Kitchener.

What I love about it is that it features an excellent adaptive reuse of a heritage building. If the old Pine Grove Schoolhouse had been removed, it would never have been missed amidst all the new, modern construction out that way. But the developers and restaurateurs had a vision and they have brought it to life as described in this Waterloo Region Record article.

I also like their emphasis on local food. I’m afraid that I haven’t tasted the food yet but it definitely is on my short list of restaurants I want to visit. This recent review by Andrew Coppolino of a special event held at Borealis gives you an idea of their approach and what you might expect. My mouth is watering just reading about it and I’ll get there soon!

Coal Award Winner:

Street Level of Eaton’s Lofts project

Given the difficult history of the project as a whole, I could probably give the whole project a coal award. But I’m not certain about the status of the residential portion these days. I’ve heard rumours of court action but I’m hoping that things are being resolved.

My concern is primarily the street level retail portion of this project.

There was a flurry of excitement today about the Honest Lawyer going in at Water & King. One tweep suggested hopefully that it was going into this space but no such luck (it’s going into the main floor of the office building kitty corner to it). I can only hope that this announcement along with all the other positive developments in the west end of downtown will soon see this derelict space productively used.

And unfortunately, derelict is the best word to describe this prime downtown core real estate. And it has been the best word for years–a result of the legal battles I presume. Since Cafe Gallery Bolero closed on the Water Street side, that street too looks more like a downtown in decline than one experiencing a renaissance.

I wish at a bare minimum that the expansive windows could feature some kind of murals or banners until the space comes back to life (as I suggested for the retail outlets outside of the Kitchener Market.)

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