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  • Hank Daniszewski

Old East landmark reborn as 'arts hub'

Older Londoners will remember lining up there for kringle every Christmas.

But the building that once housed Chapman’s Bakery, vacant for almost 20 years, will soon be reborn as an incubator for artists and crafts people, another step in the restoring Lilley’s Corner as a commercial hub of Old East Village.

The new venue will be known as Baker’s Dozen in homage to its pastry past and its address, 613 Dundas St.

“I really want an arts hub . . . It’s a step up from being in the farmers’ market, but way better than a shopping mall. It will be a European-style shopping arcade,” said William Older, who last year bought the commercial block historically known as Lilley’s Corner.

The building on the southeast corner of Dundas and Adelaide streets was once on the boundary of the former municipality of East London which was amalgamated into London in 1885.

The plan for Baker’s Dozen is similar to the London Food Incubator located almost across the street.

Older said it will also complement entertainment venues such as Aeolian Hall to give Old East Village an atmosphere similar to Toronto’s Queen’s Street West

The rear of the Baker’s Dozen space has been carved up into twenty retail stalls measuring three metres by three metres that will rent for $300 a month. Older is looking to recruit graphic artists, jewelers, potters, garment makers and other independent retailers.

It's a step up from being in the farmers' market, but way better than a shopping mall. -William Older

The large centre aisle between the stalls will be used for workshops, fashion shows and parties.

In deference to his neighbour, he is steering away from food retailers.

Dinin Construction is working to finish the stalls and renovate the front retail space which will be a showcase display space designed by Back to the Fuchsia, a funky antique shop located further east on Dundas Street.

Older is enlisting Ian Gordon of the Fire and Iron blacksmith shop in Old East to create a large metal sculpture of the I Love Old East logo to be installed in front of the store.

“I want to resurrect the Dundas Street streetscape in its heyday. I want awnings out there, the frontage will be subdued and classy,” said Older.

Older is holding an open house daily next week from 11 a.m to 2 p.m for prospective tenants. He plans to open Baker’s Dozen in mid April. Older is confident the 20 stalls will fill up quickly.

“There’s a lot of demand. I have seen this work very well in other cities,” he said.

Older also is making progress to fill the other long-vacant retail spaces in Lilley’s Corners. The rear unit backing onto Marshal Street is now occupied by a metal and glass shop.

Dundas and Sons, a new craft brewery is setting up shop next door. The next space is occupied by VibraFusionLab, which creates art from music, sounds, light and tactile mediums.

Older eventually plans to gut and rebuild the residential space on the second floor which has been vacant for about 30 years, and restore the rusty old sign still attached to the building for the long-gone Hudson’s department store as a treasured relic.


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