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A selection of the graffiti that is on the walls in the area west of Spadina, in the alleys off Queen Street West in Toronto (Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
A selection of the graffiti that is on the walls in the area west of Spadina, in the alleys off Queen Street West in Toronto (Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Business Briefing

Vogue names Toronto’s Queen Street West world’s second-hippest district Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.

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Too cool
Vogue has named Toronto’s "West Queen West" the second-hippest district in the world.

In a study of the globe’s 15 coolest neighbourhoods, the magazine ranks the Canadian district as second only to Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa.

(Vogue cites the district as "West Queen West" in its blurb headline, though Queen Street West in the actual item. For out-of-towners, this may not matter, but "West Queen West" is an area seen as bounded by Bathurst Street and Gladstone Ave.)

“Toronto is currently enjoying newfound prominence – and desirability – amongst globe-trotting tastemakers,” Vogue’s Nick Remsen writes on the magazine’s website.

“Queen Street West is a verifiable artery of indie patisseries, homegrown labels, and hidden-from-view galleries – hallmarks of hipness, if ever they existed,” he said, highlighting the publication’s September issue.

“It’s also the home of the Museum of Contemporary Canadian art, well-established ‘art’ hotels The Drake and the Gladstone, and the charming Bicyclette, a local clothing boutique and lifestyle brand whose owners love ‘glitter, DIY projects, treasure hunts and details,” it adds.

“Soho House Toronto is nearby, as is Grafitti Alley, a block where street art is both 100-per-cent legal and lauded.”

(It’s also a few blocks north of The Globe And Mail, but the magazine fails to mention that.)

The "West Queen West" area has its own website, and describes the two-kilometre region as the "creative heart" of the city, boasting more than 300 galleries, shops, eateries and other businesses.

So what does Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa have that Toronto doesn’t?

“The area has all the nuance and niche of pop Japanese culture, without the neon and the frenzy.”

After Toronto come Stockholm’s Södermalm, Singapore’s Tiong Bahru, São Paulo’s Centro, Canal Saint-Marin in Paris, New York’s Bushwick, Milan’s Brera, Miami’s Wynwood, Zona Rosa and La Condesa of Mexico City, Melbourne’s Fitzroy, the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, London’s Hackney, Berlin’s Kreuzberg, and the Dashanzi Art District in Beijing.

Apple unveils new products, stock climbs
Apple Inc. today unveiled new iPhones, a long-rumoured watch and a mobile pay system.

Chief executive officer Tim Cook announced the iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus, with screans of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, respectively.

He also unveiled Apple Pay, which works in co-operation with major credit card companies.

After that came the new product as the company unveiled its smartwatch, which would be tethered wirelessly to an iPhone and which comes in two different sizes and, among other things, helps track health and fitness.

Carney talks rate hike
The next move in British interest rates will depend on economic indicators, Mark Carney says, but the Bank of England governor is eyeing next spring if all unfolds according to plan.

“Our latest forecasts show that, if interest rates were to follow the path expected by markets – that is, beginning to increase by the spring and thereafter rising very gradually – inflation would settle at around 2 per cent by the end of the forecast and a further 1.2 million jobs would have been created,” Mr. Carney said today.

“In other words, we would achieve our mandate,” he told the Trades Union Congress in a speech, though he noted that there’s always “uncertainty about the future.”

Also playing out in Britain today is the ongoing angst over the Scottish independence referendum, where the latest polls have weighed on the pound, though Mr. Carney helped mute that at least for today.

“In the U.K. we’ve seen a large selloff in the pound which has continued overnight, while a number of U.K. companies with interests in Scotland finished the day nursing losses, over concerns about the possibility of a ‘Yes’ vote in next week’s independence referendum,” chief analyst Michael Hewson of CMC Markets said of yesterday’s stock trading.

“This is likely to be a familiar theme over the coming days as companies and investors look at contingency plans in the event we do get a ‘Yes’ vote,” he added in a research note.

“Any increase in political or economic uncertainty is always likely to make investors nervous, and a Scottish ‘Yes’ vote would create this in spades, which suggests we will continue to see further market weakness, due to the numerous unknowns, if the polls continue to move in the ‘Yes’ camp’s favour.”

Southwest targets Canada
Senior executives of Southwest Airlines Co. are sending strong signals that they’re preparing to enter the Canadian market, although cities in Canada are among 50 new destinations the airline is still considering, The Globe and Mail's Greg Keenan reports from Dallas.

“We have visited Canadian airports and Canadian airports have visited us and they make a compelling argument as to why we should serve Canada,” Andrew Watterson, Southwest’s vice-president of network planning and performance, said in an interview at the airline’s headquarters. He would not identify which airports are involved.

“I’d be surprised if we weren’t in Canada at least by the end of the decade,” chief executive officer Gary Kelly told reporters during media events at the airline’s headquarters.

Housing starts slip
Residential construction starts fell in August amid what Canada Mortgage Housing Corp. projects will be “a declining trend” of condo development.

Housing starts slipped to an annual pace of 192,368 from 199,813 in June, the agency said today.

Starts of multiple units, such as condominiums, fell to 110,842.

“The currently elevated inventory of newly completed and unoccupied condominiums, and units under construction, supports CMHC’s view that condominium starts will likely see a declining trend over the coming months as developers and builders seek to limit risks of overbuilding,” said the agency’s chief economist, Bob Dugan.

“However, there may still be some variability from month to month as the number of presales for some planned condominium projects reaches sufficient levels to trigger project start.”

Nick Exarhos of CIBC World Markets, noting that starts moderated “slightly” in August, said low interest rates are continuing to prop up real estate investment, though he still predicts an easing.

“Despite recent resiliency, we still expect housing’s contribution to growth to slowly wane as we progress through this business cycle, with affordability concerns and a weak labour market putting pressure on the building sector going forward. All told with regard to today’s release,” he said.

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