We stumbled on Bar Volo last night on our evening walk (pictured above). It’s on St. Nicholas Street, which I guess is technically a street. But it feels and acts more like a laneway. I was naturally pretty excited by this discovery and so I tweeted this out. I was then called out for glorifying this laneway because: 1) this is only one small storefront, 2) the rest of the laneway is kind of pooey, and 3) there are other, better, examples of complete laneways in the city such as throughout Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood. Okay.
What got me excited is that this is a recent development — there’s a residential building above this welcoming bottle shop — that managed to successfully create fine-grained urbanism and activate a laneway frontage that could have very easily gone underutilized. Now imagine if every new development with some sort of laneway frontage did things as meaningful as this. Piece by piece, we would be building another layer to our city. (I like to think that we’re contributing to this vision with our laneway towns at Junction House. They are, by the way, 100% sold out. Go laneway living.)
It’s easy to get excited by the bigger urban moves. A new tall building or a Ferris wheel on the waterfront, perhaps. But sometimes the answer is as simple as a small brewery, a narrow and imperfect laneway, and a roll up garage door.