Leasiders can look forward to several vacant storefronts on Bayview Avenue returning to life in the near future.
Interior renovations have begun at Leaside Cleaners, a family-run laundry business that was destroyed in a Nov. 2011 fire.
“People are working on cleanup, they have to bring down the walls and make new walls,” said Philip Rassias, who has owned the business with his wife Mimi for more than two decades.
He said renovations are expected to take place for the next three months and then another two months will be spent installing new machines.
They hope to have a grand opening sometime in September.
“It’s like our baby, we started it from scratch,” Rassias said. “It’s the job we know.”
He said the community has already taken notice that the business is slowly but surely rising from the ashes.
“The customers walk by and ask the workers when it’s opening, they miss us,” he said. “It’s very exciting.”
The estimate for the renovations is about $1.5 million, Rassias said.
Bayview Hairstylists, located above Leaside Cleaners and formerly operated by Rassias’s sister-in-law, will not be re-opening for business. The couple plans to turn the unit into a two-bedroom apartment.
Next door, a sign for Flower Nook says the vacant business has relocated temporarily to 2 Brentcliffe Rd. The owner could not be reached for comment, but an employee at the store confirmed they do plan to move back into the original location at some point in the future.
Just across the street, the former Shoppers Drug Mart at 1531 Bayview Ave. also sits vacant.
An Allcom Realty Services sign out front says the property has been leased.
Dollarama confirmed to the Town Crier they will be moving into 1531 Bayview Ave. sometime later in 2012.
Shoppers walking along Bayview Avenue welcomed the news with open arms.
“I don’t know if the guys along the street would want it, but for us, Dollarama’s great,” said Anne Nosov, who said she does most of her shopping on the strip. “It’s got everything you need.”
The owner of Leaside Paint Centre, Raymond Gork, was cautiously optimistic about the new Dollarama.
“I’d rather it not be a dollar store, but at the end of the day, a dollar store is better than no store at all,” he said. “It might bring more people to the street, increased traffic, so okay.”
He added that while it might be nice for an independent, family-run business to move in, it would be difficult because it’s a large space to fill.
“One of the disadvantages of that big space is the shortage of parking,” he said.
Gork is looking forward to the two storefronts opening up for business again. He believes the deteriorating storefronts detract from the strip.
“It doesn’t look good,” he said. “The stores can be vacant for whatever reason, but it makes people think of high rents or poor parking.”
In fact, he said he wouldn’t mind if the storefront one door down was torn down to build a parking lot.
But at this point he’s ready to be a good neighbour to whoever decides to move in. Even Dollarama.
“I welcome it,” Gork said. “At the end of the day, any occupant is better than no occupant.”
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