Toronto Loft Conversions

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I started off selling mainly condos, helping first time buyers get a foothold in the Toronto real estate market. Now working with investors and helping empty nesters find that perfect luxury suite.

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Noble Court Lofts - 24 Noble StreetGorgeous Double Corner Authentic Noble Court Loft! Space & Light. Spectacular Renos Make This A One-Of-A-Kind Home Featuring Timber Post & Beam, Exposed Honey Brick, Soaring 10Ft Wood Ceilings! North, East & South Exposure = Drenched In Sunshine With 7 Oversized Windows. Fabulous Restaurant Inspired Kitchen With Quartz Counters & Stainless Steel Appliances. Savvy Office Nook & Custom Shelving. Luxurious Spa Style Washroom With Soaker Tub & Separate Shower.  MORE DETAILS HERE

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Croft Lofts – 8-16 Croft Street

Originally, Croft Street was a significant north/south thoroughfare connecting Bloor Street to College. As the area around it became more developed, it took on many of the functions typical of Toronto lanes, such as the provision of garages and vehicular access to the houses flanking Croft east and west; however, a number of houses, coach houses, and warehouses remain that reflect the street’s previous primacy.

Croft Lofts - 8-16 Croft Street

Croft Street is a hidden gem, full of unique re-purposed live/work spaces

Croft Street is named after John Croft, the sole fatality of the great fire of 1904. Originally named Ulster Avenue, the name was changed in 1908. Although technically a lane as Croft Street is mostly lined with garages, it is a very wide and roomy example paved like a street (thanks to residents who lobbied City Hall), so could be considered the avenue of laneways.

Croft Lofts - 8-16 Croft Street

Mural dedicated to the Great Fire of 1904 at the south end of Croft Street

On the west side of Croft Street, just north of College, are five ivy-covered, three-story lofts in what was the former Eastern Rug Cleaning building (1920s through to the mid-1980s) and originally a WWI munitions factory (that was built sometime between 1913 and 1924). The original building appears on the 1924 Goad’s map of Toronto, but it is not on the 1913 version. If it built armaments for World War One, then it was likely built not long after the war began in 1914.

Croft Lofts - 8-16 Croft Street

Men build shells in the munitions factory in 1915, destined for the the Western Front

A group of people (all end users), purchased the warehouse in 1987 with the intention of converting it to live/work lofts. The proposed conversion from existing non-conforming use to residential was turned down at the Committee of Adjustment in the fall of 1987. It was appealed and approved at the Ontario Municipal Board in the spring of 1988.

Croft Lofts - 8-16 Croft Street

An ad for Eastern Rug Cleaning from 1931, the Croft Loft’s previous incarnation

Littlewood Hess was the architect, who also did 39 Roehampton, something completely different. It seems generally accepted that this conversion was done in 1989, though I have seen one for sale as far back as 1987, but that is it. No record on MLS of the people buying the original building to convert. This is another one of those weird ones that is almost impossible to get a history for. And it is rare indeed, only 2 have been for sale since the early 1990s.

The old warehouse building had 10,000 square feet of open space on two floors, with windows on all four sides. The masonry walls are a mix of clay brick and concrete brick. The structural system is a combination of timber and steel beams, and mill-flooring decking throughout. There is no at-grade outside space on the property, as the property lines mirror the floor plate of the building, but each home has two roof-top decks.

Croft Lofts - 8-16 Croft Street

Great city views from the eastern decks on the roof of the Croft Lofts

The building was divided vertically to create five equal size loft spaces, each with a total area of about 2,000 square feet.  But, as they were originally owned independently, they all have different floor plans. Three large arches were cut out of the front masonry wall on Croft Street and five parking spots were carved into the previously interior ground floor area. The newly created exterior space also provided a recessed entry area and storage facilities for each house.

Croft Lofts - 8-16 Croft Street

Brick archways create some very dramatic parking spots at the Croft Lofts

The square footage removed from the ground floor to provide access and parking was “relocated” as a continuous strip along the mid-third of the existing roof. The new party walls defining each loft were continued up through this volume, making a new third-floor room flanked on either side by decks. The siting and massing of the third-floor volume was designed to minimize the impact on the neighbouring houses, both in respect to privacy and shadows.

The Croft Lofts are one of the very few freehold lofts in Toronto. Ideal as true live/work lofts, the ground floor of the Croft Lofts were designed to work as independent offices or apartments. Some people use this space for themselves, others rent it out. Each loft has its own address – 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16. And there are lots of other cool and lofty live-work spaces on this street.

Croft Lofts - 8-16 Croft Street

Interior space and volume are hallmarks of the Croft Lofts

Inside there are amazing open stairs that span the full height of the loft. Wood burning fireplaces, ceilings up to 25 feet, roof decks and more. With the building divided vertically, each loft is much like a townhouse, with a total area of about 2,000 square feet.

One of the Croft Lofts has a main floor that was designed to work as an independent office or apartment, with its own entrance. A double-height space at the back half of the space was created to allow for a small sleeping loft. In addition, there is a large foyer and stair, separated from the ground-floor apartment, that serves as the entrance to the second unit above. Not all of them have separate the main floor area in the same way.

Croft Lofts - 8-16 Croft Street

Exposed brick, multiple levels, loft living at its finest at the Croft Lofts

The second floor is the main living area of these lofts, the public space if you will. Different areas are defined by the placement of stairs and other objects that create various degrees of enclosure. Changes in the floor levels/ceiling heights mark the transition between areas. Most lofts use this space for the dining room and living room, kitchen – and has 14-foot ceilings.

The private zone is up three steps and contains the bathroom and two bedrooms. The ceilings in this area are only eight feet high, with the windows set low to the floor. A staircase leading up to the third floor defines the edge of the double-height volume of the kitchen, and provides a visual anchor separating the floor space into smaller areas. The orientation of this space, relative to the windows, ensures that the middle section of the loft receives natural light all day long.

Croft Lofts - 8-16 Croft Street

Croft and Ulster Streets, signposts to Toronto’s history

The stair up terminates at a bridge-like element straddling the extra high area that begins in the kitchen and ends in the dining room. This space was created using the remaining walls of the old elevator shaft. From one side of the bridge, there is a spectacular view towards downtown Toronto. From the other, one overlooks the kitchen and bedrooms beyond. One step up from the bridge is the finished third-floor family room.

Croft Lofts - 8-16 Croft Street

The old ivy-covered building at Croft and College continues to tempt Toronto loft lovers

The east/west walls of the third floor are made up of over-sized sliding doors that lead out to a deck on either side. The vaulted form of the roof is echoed in the profile of the ceiling. At either end, it drops down to meet a lower, orthogonal bulkhead. These mark the threshold between outside and in. The character of the two exterior spaces was developed to exploit their different orientations. The east deck has amazing city views, while the west deck looks out over the rooftops of the neighbourhood.

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write every article, some are reproduced here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

—————————————————————————————————–

Creed Lofts – 295 Davenport Road

Designed by architect H.G. Duerr to store furs, this building was constructed following the widening of Davenport Road in the 1930s. Its horizontal orientation and curved façade are characteristic of the Streamlined Moderne style. After Creed Furs sold the building in 1988, renovations were completed and it was converted to residential lofts in 1998.

Creed Lofts - 295 Davenport Road

The current facade of the Creed Lofts on Davenport

The 19 units in the low-rise Art Deco building once used to store furs for Creeds, the fabled department store partially credited with changing Yorkville from boho to high-end. With the Annex dominated by Victorian houses and Yorkville flush with glassy new condos, a centrally located hard loft is a rare find. This building is one of only a few in the area with both soaring ceilings and a historic back story.

Creed Lofts - 295 Davenport Road

Luxury abounds inside the lofts of the old Creed Building

It is also one of few Art Deco lofts in Toronto, one of a very small cadre of Art Deco buildings left at all. It is also one of the only lofts in Yorkville or the Annex. The Creed Lofts are upscale lofts with mostly multi-level units with skylights or windows onto an atrium light well. Most have patios or terraces, hardwood and gas fireplaces. The top level was added on during the conversion process to allow for access to the rooftop patios.

Creed Lofts - 295 Davenport Road

Enjoy the sun and city views on the Creed Lofts rooftop patios

The Creed Lofts offer one-of-a-kind contemporary loft living in the heart of the city at Davenport and Bedford Roads. Probably the greatest appeal of these converted lofts is the location. The old Creed building is just steps to Yorkville and the trendy shops and restaurants of Avenue Road. The location makes the Creed building a favorite for many upscale professionals.

Creed Lofts - 295 Davenport Road

Entrance to the Creed Lofts

A few units offer direct street access and a townhouse-like design. Most units have private terraces. Many of the units have hardwood floors, gas fireplaces, spacious open kitchens and large rooms, although features vary specifically from unit to unit. Other characteristics in many of the units are high or multi-level ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, stainless steel appliances & custom Paris kitchens. The Creed Lofts range from roughly 800 to 1,200 square feet, with ceilings up to 13 feet.

Creed Lofts - 295 Davenport Road

Skylights on the upper levels, with walkouts to rooftop patios

Condo fees are reasonable (utilities extra) and due to its small size there are no facilities.

For Architect Bernard Watt, a “labour of love” may be an understatement. Watt has spent the last 21 years recycling marginally used buildings in downtown Toronto, including the legendary Creed loft conversion.

Creed Lofts - 295 Davenport Road

The interior atrium of the Creed Lofts is pretty cool!

Creeds was a Toronto family-owned high-end women’s clothier founded as a furrier in 1916. During the 1930s Creeds branched into coats and suits and by the 1950s, fashions were being made under their own label by top European manufacturers. In 1974 Creeds was an entire mini-department store that was last located at 45 Bloor Street West in the Manulife Centre (Creeds’ former space is now partially occupied by William Ashley China).

Creed Lofts - 295 Davenport Road

The old Creeds storefront

Creeds was approximately 35,000 square feet over two floors and featured several exclusive shop-in-store boutiques. It introduced Canada to Chanel with an elegant in-store Chanel Boutique. Creeds also included shops for Christian Dior, Emanuel Ungaro, Sonia Rykiel, Michael Kors and Krizia. Also included were a world-class fur salon, some gourmet food brands, cosmetics and jewellery.

Creed Lofts - 295 Davenport Road

The Creed building after Davenport Road was widened in 1948

The store was regarded highly for its luxurious interior as much as it was for its quality fashions and furs. Creeds was just one of many Canadian retailers that succumbed to the recession of the early 1990s. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 1990 and closed the following year.

—————————————————————————————————–
Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write every article, some are reproduced here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

—————————————————————————————————–

Corktown Lofts – 21 River Street

I have been told by owners that the Corktown Lofts was originally a tannery built in 1853, which would make it the oldest loft I know of, beating the 1860 date of the St. Lawrence Market Lofts at 81A Front Street East. But I am not content with hearsay, I have to make sure, to know for myself.

So I started to check the old maps and archives of the city. I could not find it on William Somerville Boulton’s 1858 Atlas of the City of Toronto, which concerns me. The old Davis (Don) Brewery (now the Malthouse Loft Towns) is there, but 21 River Street is an empty lot. I can see the Queen City Vinegar building on the 1913 Goad’s fire insurance map at 19 River Street, with something questionable to the north. But nothing that looks quite like the Corktown Lofts building. Only on the 1924 Goad’s map do we see the building unequivocally.

Corktown Lofts - 21 River Street

The Corktown Lofts on River Street, with the Queen City Vinegar Lofts under construction

To me this means it was built sometime between 1913 and 1924, putting the whole 1853 date into serious question. It also appears to be numbered either 23 or 25 River Street, so the current number 21 of the lofts is not original. Using those addresses, I found an old ad for the Atlas Engineering and Machine Co. Ltd. at 23 River Street, manufacturers of heating and pumping equipment.

I have also found a bio of Lewis Sanagan Elsie, from Delaware Ontario. He came to Toronto in 1919 to become manager of production, and also held the offices of secretary and treasurer for the Atlas Engineering and Machine Company. Thus the building was built somewhere between 1913 and 1919. I am guessing that Atlas built it for their own original use, in the 1914-1918 period, probably to capitalize on the need for machining work during WWI.

Corktown Lofts - 21 River Street

An old ad for the business that likely built the building housing the Corktown Lofts

As much as I like the 1853 tannery story, it is sadly not true. Possibly there was once an old tannery near that spot in the mid-1800s, but that is not the building that is now the Corktown Lofts. There is a listing for “Grant E. Cole Co., 23 River Street, Toronto” in the “Mechanical Contracting & Plumbing January-December 1923″, indicating that Atlas had moved on by that point.

Finding actual historical photos was even harder! All I found was one, and only by accident. We can see the building in the background of this photo from 1946, though there is no signage to help us determine what it was at that time.

Corktown Lofts - 21 River Street

Behind the children at left is the Corktown Lofts building in 1946, with the Queen City Vinegar building at right

In 1995, it was an ugly office building, with nasty mirrored glass windows. They still used the lower level for manufacturing at that time, though what I do not know. The whole building sold for $275,000 back then… I know… It was originally marketed as River Studios in 1996, with prices in the $160s. Things have changed for sure since then, as they go for 4 times that much now.

This hard loft conversion only has 8 units, each with a private entrance, walk-ups in a New York style. Upper units have rooftop decks. They were against the addition to 19 River as it casts shadows on their rooftop decks. Lower units have living space on the main floor, with bedrooms on the lower level, a very European way to live.

Corktown Lofts - 21 River Street

Some of the Corktown Lofts are lovely and luxurious

If you want size, then the Corktown Lofts is for you. The lofts range in size from 1,154 to 1,682 square feet. The ample space allows some owners to work from their lofts. Some units are rough and raw, others are luxurious and opulent. One unit still has the original owner.

The Corktown Lofts have vaulted ceilings, original cedar post and beams, plank hardwood floors and large windows. The revitalization of Queen Street East is apparent by the all the new construction projects in the area. The suites are generous in size and reasonably priced as compared to houses, which makes them the right choice for a lot of east-end urbanites.

Corktown Lofts - 21 River Street

Original posts and beams give the Corktown Lofts their hard loft character

Due to the relatively small size of the building, there are no amenities, but maintenance fees are higher as they include utilities.

Once a slum for immigrant workers, Corktown is truly coming into its own. With the revitalization of Queen Street East ramping up ever faster, this area is one to keep your eye on. There are other hot loft conversions in the area, such as the Queen City Vinegar Company Lofts right next door at 19 River Street, the Malthouse Loft Towns right behind, the Carhart Lofts kitty-corner on Queen, and the Tannery Lofts up the street on Dundas.

Corktown Lofts - 21 River Street

The side of the Corktown Lofts is tucked away off the main street, giving a very mews-style feel

What used to be a sketchy area is being reinvented into a booming neighbourhood. New and more relaxed zoning bylaws in the Corktown district have resulted in the speedy conversion of many of Corktown’s commercial buildings into work/live studios, condominium lofts and professional offices, all of which has helped to revitalize the entire neighbourhood.

For as much as Corktown itself is being renewed however, it’s becoming just as well known for the two huge new neighbourhoods being constructed at its borders. To the north is the new Regent Park, where condo buildings are going up and changing the Corktown sky almost daily. To the South, the massive Pan Am Village is taking shape for the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. Projects changing the area include the fantastic River City by Saucier + Perrotte Architects, the new TCHC Buildings at King and River, Underpass Park, Don River Park now at the foot of River Street, and the entire Canary District, just south of the neighbourhood and future home to a new George Brown campus and the largest YMCA in Canada. The number of cranes visible in the sky in this once-desolate parcel is truly staggering.

Corktown Lofts - 21 River Street

Corktown is right on the edge of all the exciting new development in Toronto’s east end

But as much as there is new in Corktown, the thing many people like most is respect for the old. Corktown was originally settled by working class immigrants in the early 1800s. As a result of that past, Corktown is still largely filled with old row houses and small cottages built in the late 19th century.

But no one can tell you authoritatively how it got its name. One story claims it’s because of local breweries and adjacent distilleries a century ago. The main theory says that it was because the majority of its Irish inhabitants came from County Cork. Historians say that both stories are fiction – that it was always just the southern tip of Cabbagetown, severed by the construction of Regent Park after World War Two, and cut off on the south when the Richmond overpass to the Don Valley Parkway was built.

—————————————————————————————————–
Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write every article, some are reproduced here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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