Welcome to my blog on housing, culture, and design in Toronto! This is where I share my insights and experiences on almost every aspect of the Toronto Real Estate Market - and life here in the 6ix!
Lately, I've been writing a lot about how Toronto - the City of Neighbourhoods - has been undergoing a massive change over the past fifty years as it evolves from an industrial port city into a glittering global post-modern metropolis. This has included exploring the dynamics of gentrification and densification, how a booming technology economy is fueling demand, and how existing archaic residential zoning policies are contributing to the lack of supply for centrally-located family-friendly properties.
As the City's population has boomed and high-earning households increasingly covet minimizing their commuting time to work (and their preference to cycle and take transit over driving), I've also charted how the values of freehold housing in proximity to the financial core are starting to exceed the value of homes located in neighbourhoods deemed, until recently, as more desirable and of a higher status. I've also written how the intensification of Main Streets like The Danforth with mid-rise condos are reinvigorating 'village shopping amenities' near mature single-family neighbourhoods, and why our housing stock is also undergoing its own transformation - not only through the renovation of the existing houses but in the acquisition of now obsolete dwellings that are being torn down and then substantially rebuilt into new luxury single-family residences. And, although I applaud the City's recent as-of-right policy to build laneway housing in Toronto, I really wish all levels of government would introduce more opportunities to solve our housing crisis.
Given my career-path began pioneering Toronto's Innovative Space Market in the 1990s - including the adaptive reuse conversion of former factories, cinemas, and banquet halls - today I'm going to showcase some recent sales (over the past 30 months) of freehold adaptive reuse conversions across the central core - including smaller freestanding warehouses, corner stores and coach houses - which have been adapted for residential or live/work use.
Typically, the adaptive reuse of a structure - usually constructed in the past 150 years previously used for commercial use, industrial production, or as horse stables - often built of brick and sometimes poured concrete - reflect the demand and growth for residential or live/work lofty living since the 1970s. Favoured by creative types for their size, open floor plates, and utility as idea incubators, these non-residential buildings often feature high ceilings and large windows, doors and/or skylights. Their expansive volumes often provide excellent natural light and good airflow too. The properties I'm showcasing today are independent freehold properties, and not the loft condominiums which began appearing in Toronto in the 1980s which I'm intimately familiar, given my own education focused on those projects, which served as the foundation for my Graduate Thesis and subsequent early career in the concept, sales & marketing of several adaptive reuse conversions including The Movie House on Euclid Avenue, The Button Factory on Clinton Street and The Banquet Hall on Claremont Street, amongst others.
The gems featured today are the types of properties that rarely come to market, which is partly why I had to search the past 30 months of sales to document these 12 examples. You'll see they tend to sell for big bucks, not only because these special places are centrally-located (and frequently in areas which have gentrified considerably since they were originally converted), but because they're highly coveted for their uniqueness, style and flexible space plans.
A Converted High Park Century Coach House
From MLS: "Remarkable High Park Coach House Situated In A Private Forest. Lovingly Transformed Into Modern Hideaway 'Lane' Home, Yet Retaining Many Original Features-11 Foot Ceilings, Barnyard Doors And State Of The Art Contemporary Amenities. Over 3000 Sq Feet, 4 Bedrooms, In Floor Radiant Heating, Marble Kitchen And Bathrooms, Steam Shower, Whole House Sound System. Sensational, Edgy, Impressive, Secluded And Unique."
Sold: May 2017
A Converted Storefront Near The Junction
From MLS: "This Handsome Storefront Only Hints At The Astonishing Beauty Inside. An Urban Residence Plus Laneway House, Perfectly Designed And Meticulously Executed With Only The Finest Materials. Utterly Unexpected, This Sun-Filled Residence Includes Two Spacious Inner Courtyards, Twenty Foot Ceilings, A Magnificent Custom Kitchen, Fine Millwork And Utterly Serene Bathrooms. 3 Car Parking, And Secluded Live+Work Space At Rear."
Sold: October 2017
A Former Community Centre Near Trinity Bellwoods Park
From MLS "Live/Work In The Heart Of The Soho Of Toronto, Trendy Ossington/ Queen West Neighborhood. Walk To Trinity Bellwoods Park. Unique Conversion From A Community Center To A Private Vast Residence With Exclusive Outdoor Courtyard. Bright & Spacious With Many Skylights, Unique Layout. 6 Bedrooms, 5 Washrooms, 2 Kitchens, Elevator To Bsmt & Main Levels Only. Great Urban Home. Many Uses Allowed, Commercial & Residential Zoning."
Sold: May 2019
A Former Warehouse Near King & Bathurst
From MLS "Rare Freestanding Building Warehouse Loft Residence In Prime King West. Formerly A Printing Shop, This Building Was Converted To This Large, Open-Concept Loft Home In 1996. 3400 Sq Ft Of Living Space With Large Backyard, Garage, And Driveway In The Front. Lane Access For Extra Parking In The Back."
Sold: March 2017
A Converted Storefront Near St. Clair West & Bathurst
From MLS: "Get Your Foot In The Real Estate Door W/This Spectacular & Versatile "Legal 2 Unit Dwelling Former Storefront Dating From 1895". Main Floor Suite Is A Show Stopper W/9"3" Ceiling, New Kitchen W/Island, Exposed Brick Wall. Bi-Level 3 Bdrm Suite Is Huge W/Access To Sprawling Backyard. Both Have En-Suite Laundry, Bsmt W/ 7 Ft Ceil Height. Perfect For Owner Work/Live Space + Income, Friends/Siblings Cohabiting, Downsizers, Investors. Delivers 4.83% Potential Cap Rate W/ $63K Potential Net Income".
Sold: April 2019
A Former Church Near Bloor & Spadina
From MLS: "An Iconic Annex Building Housing Energy Probe Research Foundation. This Former Church, Synagogue & Art School Now Converted To Stylish Offices. May Suit Another Non-Profit. Or Make It A Spectacular Single-Family Home Or Multi-Residential. Rare Opportunity! Seller Open To Vtb Mortgage & Continued Rental Occupancy To Help Carry Development Costs. Zoned R(D1.0)(X852. Use As Non Profit Office Space May Possibly Be Cont'd. Seller Will Not Warrant Future Use".
Sold: March 2018
A Former Warehouse Near Avenue Road & Davenport
From MLS "Rare & Special Offering. Architectural Masterpiece Inspired & Designed By World-Renowned Architect Gordon Ridgley. The Finest Of Craftsmanship & Immaculate Attention To Details Are Evidenced Throughout. Entrance Gallery Perfect To Showcase Art. Dramatic Antique Fountain, Art Deco Fireplace & Custom Stainless Steel Cabinetry. Walls Of Glass & Soaring Ceilings Combine To Create An Artistic Triumph.
Formal Entertaining May Be Enjoyed In The Living Room & Open Yet Intimate Dining Room Complemented By The Efficiently Designed Compact Kitchen While The Great Room With Massive Skylight Offers Venues For More Casual Gatherings".
Sold October 2017
A Converted Warehouse Near Jarvis & Wellesley
From MLS: "One Of A Kind Unique Heritage Space In The Heart Of Downtown Toronto. High Ceilings On Both Floors With A Professional Kitchen. Currently Used As Office Space For Marketing Agency. The Big Driveway Can House Over 12 Parking Spot. Zoned R3 Z2.0 Can Be Either Live Or Work Space".
Sold: October 2017
A Former Coach House In Rosedale, North Of Bloor Near Castlefrank
From MLS: "Imagine Living In A Magical Coach House In The Centre Of South Rosedale! This Rare Find Underwent A Spectacular Renovation By Joe Brennan & Was Featured In 'Coach Houses Of Toronto'. When You Walk In, You Escape The City In A Tucked Away Oasis. The Soaring Cathedral Ceiling In The Lr W/ Grand Fireplace & Skylights Feels Like A Vacation Home. Open Concept L/Rm & Drm Is Ideal For Entertaining. The Spacious Eat-In Kitchen Walks Out To A Private Green Paradise. Newly Landscaped Patio & Garden By Neil Turnbull W/ Fully Fenced Courtyard. Low Maintenance Guaranteed W/ The Irrigated Garden & Outdoor Lighting. A Charming Home W/ A Gracious & Large Personality".
Sold: June 2018
A Converted Storefront In The Annex, North Of Bloor West Of Spadina
From MLS: "Vintage Meets Modern At This Unique, One Of A Kind Home, Located In Toronto's Most Sought After Neighbourhood! Original Corner Store Conversion, Re-Imagined Into A Lofty & Magical Space, Bathed In Natural Light. Dramatic 12Ft Ceilings, Full Height Windows, W/In Wine Cellar & Original Exposed Brick. Plus 2 Storey Coach House W/Rare 4 Car Parking! 4 Grand Bedrooms, 5 Bathrooms, Main Floor Mudroom And Large Backyard! Designed By Derreck Martin Of Eastroom/507 Antiques. Full 2 Year Builder Warranty".
Sold: July 2017
A Former Warehouse In North Riverdale Near Danforth & Logan
From MLS: "Urban, Luminous And Ultra Private Residential Warehouse Over 5000 Sq Ft, Hidden In A Laneway. The Exterior Belies The Treasure Inside. There Are Not 2 Of These! If You Have Been Dreaming Of Your Very Own Oasis Where You Can Lay On Your Heated Floor And Look Up At The Sky And Actually See The Sky, Then You Need To See This. I'll Let The Pictures Speak For Themselves. There Is Room To Put Your Own Spin, If Inclined".
Sold: April 2018
A Converted Warehouse Near Danforth & Woodbine
From MLS "Truly Extraordinary, One-Of-A-Kind, Massive, Detached Residential Warehouse/Loft Conversion. 3500 Sq Feet A/G W/ A 30 X 30' Studio W/14' Ceilings; 4 Bedrooms; 3 Baths, 2 Kitchens; Exercise Rm; 30 X 30' Roof Deck W/ An Outdoor Shower! 3-4 Car Parking On A 98' Long Private Drive! Large Yard Space. Many Possible Uses & Configurations. Easy To Duplex. Seller Operated A Photography Studio For 25+ Years".
Sold: June 2018
There's no question that these buildings, with their unique architectural features and custom renovations, result in a very impressive collection of properties. Having personally lived in several adaptive reuse conversions (all of which I was part of their redevelopment), I can attest that there's a magic to these kinds of spaces, both for their former heritage and their transformations into living spaces, that make many of we city dwellers swoon. For those who have these places as their homes, I'm quite certain they occasionally sit back and think 'I'm a part of this story, now'.
Did any of these homes speak to you?
Serving first and second time buyers, relocations, renovators and those building their long term property portfolios, my mandate is to help clients choose the property which will realize the highest future return on their investment while ensuring the property best serves their practical needs and their dream of "Home" during their ownership. At Urbaneer, my team and I identify a property's best qualities, features and insouciant charm in the context of your wishes and wants, plus your future target market. Although searching for the right property can be an intense and sometimes lengthy process it is, without fail, rewarding both to our clients and the Urbaneer team. Now in our 28th year, we are grateful to be the realtor of choice for both established Torontonians, and the newly arrived.
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In addition to the links embedded in the blog, these other Urbaneer.com posts offer more insight on Toronto real estate, culture and design:
Thanks for reading!
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 322-8000
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