http://www.thestar.com — I was once caught stealing from Honest Ed’s — a bra.This was particularly stupid because I was 12 years old and flat as an ironing board. But thieving from the junky neighbourhood emporium was a rite of passage among my circle of girlfriends, the dare you dared not decline lest being branded a goody-goody and cast upon the ash heap of uncool and shunned outcasts.A brassiere was the item ordered up by the queen bee toughie chick of our preteen clique, a girl who’d arrived at hooter bona fides earlier than everyone else.All these years later, I can still recall the mortification after a lady store detective caught me B-cup red-handed. It wasn’t so much the pilfering that caused my cheeks to burn. It was the tittering triggered by that lacy pink article as it emerged from inside my coat sleeve, padded mounds sticking up accusatorily when deposited on the desk between us. “What possible use could you have for this?”She let me off with a warning, a call to my parents — hell to pay later that night — and a promise never to step foot in Honest Ed’s again. And I didn’t.No hardship there because I was an anti-pinch-penny snob anyway. While the shambolic discount department store was OK for the purpose of petty crime, I would not have been caught dead shopping there. It was for poor people and immigrants. Of course, my family was both and my mother routinely queued for the 1 p.m. door-stopper specials, whatever inventory Ed Mirvish had scooped up in closeout bulk: jumbo boxes of detergent, steak knives, frozen turkeys. Yet I pined for the waspish orderliness of Eaton’s and Simpson’s, where saleswomen wore sweater sets and kitten heels and spoke softly. At Honest Ed’s, the cashiers wore apron smocks, piled their hair in beehives, and hollered for price checks in foghorn voices that could peel paint from the walls.So, no, I don’t have warm and fuzzy memories about the landmark institution that has stood at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor for 65 years, expanding higgledy-piggledy to add-ons and annexes. Still, I do understand the immense affection that Torontonians have for an establishment that has earned its cheesy historical stature. I further understand that family heir David Mirvish — the arty spawn, with his galleries and theatre and bookstore — might want to scrape tacky Honest Ed’s off the bottom of his shoe, banish his father’s niche-of-kitsch empire to the mercantile archives where Eaton’s and Simpson’s have already gone.He dreams tall and condo-chic and upturned-nose “cultural.” Some, the acolytes and diviners of progress, call him visionary, swooning over the specs of a massive redevelopment proposal for King St. W., designed by Frank Gehry. Mirvish unveiled his audacious architectural model last fall, uptown plans for a downtown transformation.His heart is in Entertainment District mega-dollars, not a five-and-dime relic. Because Mirvish already owns so much of the real estate in that area, he’s got a leg up on other would-be impresarios and their dueling hyper-construction schematics.Last week, Mirvish announced his intention to jettison Honest Ed’s. The building and the prime land beneath it will go on the auction block. Drooling developers, having expropriated and exploited just about every square inch of the city core over the past decade, shoehorning and big-footing their ugly towers into all available crevices, will undoubtedly bid large for this enviable property — rumours the sale will fetch $100 million, funds Mirvish could put toward his colossi condo cluster on King. Gone with the wrecker’s ball is also the impending fate of adjacent Mirvish Village, the idiosyncratic collection of shops and restaurants occupying Victorian row houses on Markham Street, all of it included in the 1.8-hectare block-parcel secured by the late Mr. Mirvish.Thus will expire yet another chunk of old Toronto, a city in unseemly haste to eradicate its heritage.I don’t view that past through sepia-coloured glasses. Toronto was a provincial mope of a place for a very long time. Nor is it a great city today, though pleasant enough, if overextended on credit and under-serviced and in rampant thrall to those hideously profiteering developers.Honest Ed’s was — is — a honky-tonk barn of cheap-cheap-cheap, its distinctiveness usurped by ubiquitous dollar stores and hulking box stores. Those marquee lights festooned on its façade are ridiculously garish and were always far too carny for the neighbourhood. Only a Mirvish could have gotten away with that.There’s no heritage value to the joint, not really, certainly not when a genuinely historic building such as Maple Leaf Gardens can be turned into a Loblaws and a venerable railway roundhouse into a flagship Leon’s. Thus, no strong argument can be mounted for retaining a quasi Honest Ed’s in some similar fashion.Far more worrisome is what will take its place.That stretch of Bloor, while extensively altered from how it looked a quarter-century ago, has still somehow managed to retain its sense of neighbourhood funkiness, dimension and proportion. Honest Ed’s was the anchor of seeming permanence, even as Kresge’s, Woolworths and local movie houses vanished. A monstrosity development, all gloss and glass and big shoulders, would constitute a dreadful invasion of the body-and-soul snatchers.Oh, there has been much palaver about doing it right this time, as if any lessons have ever been learned from the countless times it — redevelopment and purported “renewal” — has been done wrong in Toronto. Politicians vow integrative strategies. The Star promotes community meetings that would embrace local residents and businesses to frame a revitalization plan for the future — city-building, our editorial writer called it.Sure. But if that anonymous writer looked out a south-facing window down here at One Yonge, he or she could not help but notice — it’s impossible to overlook — that new condo grotesquerie rising up on the edge of the lake. These are the “Residences of Pier 27,” if you please, posh units ranging from $500,000 to $3 million. Despite all the city’s regrets and promises following the ruination of the waterfront — that concrete-barrier condo cock-up west of Yonge — that it would never again allow vast commercial and residential development on the south side of Queens Quay, the building authorities have rolled over again. It’s what they do, in this density-spellbound town.Expect no esthetic mercy from the development lickspittles in the current city hall administration. Even reform-minded pols are primarily preoccupied with what they can extract from negotiations for their own little pet projects.Expect the same at the coveted corner of Bathurst and Bloor: Evermore a city for the rich, the vertically migrant and the vulgar.Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.