Local design studio latest gentrification victim in Mile End

MILE END CASGRAIN

A local design studio is the latest victim of what it's calling the increasing gentrification of the trendy Mile End district in the Plateau Mont Royal.

LOKI design and communications studio has been working out of a building on Casgrain for the past few years.

But that'll end at the end of the month when their lease is up and taken over by San Francisco-based software company Zendesk, replacing about 20 small businesses.

"There's a human cost to it, you know," said LOKI founder Kevin Lo.

"We've become obviously friends, not just neighbours, roommates."

Lo is now scrambling for another space.

"It's a pretty significant expense for a small company," said Lo in an interview on the Natasha Hall Show.

Lo said there's very little protection for small merchants and commercial leases.

"Basically the gentrification, the horrible sort of scale of gentrification that we've seen in San Francisco,  has already come home to roost. We're seeing it in Parc Ex, we're seeing it in Mile End - for awhile it's been like that. I feel like all the small businesses that have given character to the neighbourhood, that have helped sustain the neighbourhood, are now being pushed out of Mile End," said Lo.

CJAD 800 is awaiting comment from the borough.

The city will be holding public consultations on the issue of empty storefronts on commercial arteries, with the first public information meeting kicking off next week.

"I do hope that there's ways that we can work cooperatively and possibly, through putting a bit of pressure on the city, to kind of try to protect the leases of smaller-scale commercial tenants," said Lo.