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.

Toronto Real Estate

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Glebe Lofts 660 Pape AvenueThe Glebe Lofts at 660 Pape Avenue – Here Is Your Chance To Live In A Unique Two-Storey Loft In This Amazing Church Conversion At Pape And Danforth. Approximately 1,272 Square Feet In Size, This Spacious Loft Offers A Large Master With 4Pc Ensuite And A Spacious Second Floor Den. Hardwood Flooring Throughout And Granite Counters. Freshly Painted In Designer Colors. Large Pantry In Kitchen, Perfect For A Chef. Too Many Upgrades To List. Bright, West Exposure With Balcony. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS

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Millington Lofts – 5 & 7 Millington Street

One of only a few freehold loft conversions in Toronto, the Millington Lofts are stunning examples of exciting world class design. Spectacular soaring atriums above circular metal stairs, unbelievable glassed-in ground floor courtyards, 1,000 square-foot roof gardens, you can’t ask for much more. Featured on the Cabbagetown Tour Of Homes, these incredible New York-style lofts were built in 1915 and were once the stables to the Metcalfe Mansion (circa 1875) at 37 Metcalfe Street.

Millington Lofts - 5 Millington Street

The entrance to 5 Millington Street, one half of the Millington Lofts

When Metcalfe Mansion was originally built, the Baroque Italianate-styled house faced onto Winchester Street (its former address was 75-79 Winchester Street). The house was substantially remodeled in 1891. In 1910, some of the property for the house was sold for apartments (the rather famous Hampton Mansion Apartments at 77 Winchester), and the house was remodeled again, this time facing onto Metcalfe Street. Architect John Wilson Gray was responsible for 1891 remodeling, the others seems lost to history.

Metcalfe Mansion - 37 Metcalfe Street

The old Metcalfe Mansion as it looks today at 37 Metcalfe Street

The mansion was designated heritage by Toronto in 1981, but there is no mention of the coach house on Millington. To be honest, it is amazing that the little coach house even survived! I can’t determine when it was originally turned from coach house to living space, when was it converted originally? Since digital land records don’t go back past 1985, I can only get more information down at the city land registry office. If they even have the records, which is not guaranteed.

Millington Lofts - 5 and 7 Millington Street in the 1990s

The Millington Lofts at 5 and 7 Millington Street as they looked in the 1990s

Going back over sales history, the first we see of it on MLS is #5 being offered for sale in 1986. It then sold in 1988 and again in 1989. No photos or much info, so I don’t know if it had been converted yet or not. Bank sale in 1992… Then later that year we see Harry Stinson and Brad Lamb’s name attached to it – back when Lamb worked for Stinson! Before the Candy Factory fiasco that brought Brad Lamb to prominence. But that is another story for another time…

Millington Lofts - 7 Millington Street

One of the Millington Lofts – 7 Millington Street – after renovation

But then it did not sell and another well-known loft Realtor was involved, same seller. Then again, another agent in 1993. Maybe Stinson and Lamb just created the loft marketing for the property. Anyway, that same year in 1993 we see #7 up for sale. And the photos of that unit from a 1997 listing don’t look much different than more recent shots. The outside got a MAJOR makeover when Core got to it in 2006.

Millington Lofts - 7 Millington Street

One of the Millington Lofts – 7 Millington Street – after renovation

The renovated of 7 Millington was designed by Core Architects (http://www.corearchitects.com/project/cabbagetown-coach-house). They turned it into an unassuming 2,500-square-foot modern loft near Parliament and Carlton Street. This two-storey unit is not your traditional industrial-looking brick and beam space. The loft is downright sexy with a dark wood kitchen, an interior courtyard, and a cozy fireplace in the living room. There’s a glass staircase and a second floor bridge leading to a master retreat and outdoor patio. And there’s still plenty of natural light with the cut-outs and large skylight.

Millington Lofts - 5 Millington Street

The Millington Loft at 5 Millington Street with its much more lofty character

Its neighbour at 5 Millington Street retains a more 1980s / futuristic vibe, with rounded bits and lots of glass block. Exposed steel roof trusses give the open concept space some lofty cred.

Millington Lofts - 5 Millington Street

The Millington Loft at 5 Millington Street retains a more industrial vibe

There are only a handful of lofts in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood, including the Peanut Factory Lofts, a processing plant conversion on Sackville Street and the former home of a certain disgraced CBC host, who has since moved to the Beaches (or his mom’s place).

Millington Lofts - Millington Street

The unassuming entrance to Millington Street and the Millington Lofts

Today, Cabbagetown is just a quiet neighbourhood amongst classic cottages with the best manicured front lawns in the city. Millington Street is more of an alley than anything, running just one block from Metcalfe Street to Sackville Street. Everything else on the street seems to have been built from around 1983 on. Obviously some sort of renaissance happened in the early to mid-80s in that little pocket.

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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.

—————————————————————————————————–

Merchandise Lofts – 135 & 155 Dalhousie Street

The Merch. This is the big one, probably one of the best-known loft conversions in all of Toronto. How can you miss it, all the different phases and parts of the complex cover almost an entire city block. The Merchandise Building consists of 504 lofts, 529 above-grade parking spaces, 246 bicycle spaces, 4 loading bays, a 30,000-square-foot food store, and 35,300 square feet of
retail and office space. It is a small town unto itself!

Merchandise Lofts - 155 Dalhousie Street

The Merchandise Lofts money shot showing the different phases of construction

The 12-storey warehouse conversion has nine styles of loft, ranging in size from 565 square feet to 1,765 square feet. Though I am pretty sure that Deadmau5’s place is more like 2,500sf. It was completed in February 2000 by Cresford Development Inc. and is one of the best Art Deco style buildings left in Toronto – and one of only a few Art Deco lofts (along with Tip Top Lofts, Forest Hill Lofts and a couple of others).

Merchandise Lofts - 155 Dalhousie Street

The main entrance of the Merchandise Lofts at 155 Dalhousie Street

The Merchandise Lofts is so large that it has 2 addresses – the main one at 155 Dalhousie and the smaller, not-quite-separate building at 135 Dalhousie. Plus there is even a back entrance at 108 Mutual. The massive loft conversion is split into 4 different condo corporations. The 3 phases of 155 Dalhousie is made up of MTCC 1247, 1314 and 1369, while 135 Dalhousie is condo corp 1565.

Merchandise Lofts - 155 Dalhousie Street

Lofts on higher floors of the Merchandise Building have great views of downtown Toronto

When entering the Merchandise Lofts, you take one elevator from street level up to the 4th floor, where you then head off to the phase you are going to. Then you take another elevator to your destination loft. This is when you start to understand the size of this old warehouse.

Merchandise Lofts - 155 Dalhousie Street

The “bowling alley” style of many of the Merchandise Lofts

As the building is so large, the lofts tend to be deep, long and skinny with a window only at one end. The hard lofts in the Merchandise Building have 12-foot ceilings with exposed duct work, polished concrete floors and mushroomed concrete pillars –  evidence of the building’s roots. Open plans and modern finishes, with light through massive windows, provide a feeling of spaciousness even in the smaller layouts.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

If you have the budget, the larger and wider units are the way to go. Huge windows and high ceilings are what lofts are all about! Very much concrete…

As with most loft conversions in Toronto, there is little in the way of outdoor space. Old factories and warehouses just didn’t have balconies… But there are some private balconies at The Merch, though they open into an open air atrium of sorts, a courtyard, and do not look outward. But there is a huge rooftop common area, possibly the best in the city. It has great views, is a very social place, and has BBQs for residents to use. There is even a dog walk area on the roof!

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

The amazing rooftop of the Merchandise Lofts with views for miles

This landmark industrial complex was built in stages between 1916 and 1950. Over the course of the twentieth century the buildings functioned as the administrative centre and warehouse for the Simpson, Simpsons-Sears and Sears Canada mail-order business. Orders were processed and goods sent from this site (as well as from smaller facilities in Regina and Halifax) to customers across the country. In the late 1990s the building started to be converted to lofts, a process that took many years. It was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1997 and Heritage Toronto in 2005.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

A 1916 ad to announce the new Simpson’s “Service” Building, the Mutual Street addition to the 1910 original building at 135 Dalhousie. Note the mention of it being fireproof.

The original building was designed by Chicago architect Max Dunning and the Toronto firm of Burke Horwood and White. In later years, matching additions were built to the north. The section of the complex fronting on Dalhousie Street – an extension of the earlier building behind it – was designed by Frank S. Corley in 1949 in the unadorned International Style. Its facade was changed to match the older Mutual Street side when the complex was converted to lofts.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

Testing the strength of the floors of the new building in 1916

The Merchandise Building is a classic example of the renowned early 20th-century industrial Chicago School architectural style. It is a loft conversion of a historic warehouse located in downtown Toronto on Dalhousie Street, next door to Ryerson University and close to the Eaton Centre. Built in various stages from 1910-1949 for the Simpson’s department store, and later owned by Sears Canada after Simpson’s demise, the Merchandise Building at over 1,000,000 square feet is one of the largest buildings by floor area in downtown Toronto.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

This photo from November 1920 shows just how large the Merchandise Building was – and still is –  looming over the corner of Dundas and Mutual Streets

This building is larger than life, and residents could survive without ever leaving the building. There is a Metro Supermarket on the ground floor, an indoor basketball court, a fully equipped gym, a meeting room, games room, sauna and spa. The rooftop offers a swimming pool, party room, BBQ area and dog walk area. The social life in the merchandise lofts is another wonderful selling feature.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

The swimming pool on the roof of the Merchandise Lofts. Swimming. On. The. Roof.

The oldest part of the site is a six-story manufactory built in 1910 at 135 Dalhousie Street for Simpson’s delivery business. Behind it, on Mutual Street, the growing company added the “Robert Simpson Co Ltd Mail-Order Building” in 1914, a large distribution warehouse. Further expansion occurred in the years 1931-1949, tripling the size of the building, yet still conforming to the clean lines of the original design. The main architect was Max Dunning of the firm of Burke, Horwood and White. This noted Canadian firm’s other work in Toronto includes the Bell Media building (what most of us know as the Much Music Building)on Queen Street West and the Simpsons (now The Bay) flagship store at the corner of Yonge and Queen Streets. Contrary to popular belief, Dunning and his firm were not responsible for the Tip Top Tailor building – although sharing many design aspects with the Merchandise Building, it was produced in the year 1929 by the firm of Bishop & Miller.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

The Merchandise Building, seen looking south on Dalhousie Street from Gerard in 1950

The Robert Simpson Co. Ltd. Mail-Order Building incorporated many features, that while commonplace today, were relatively novel at the time – a steel structure, reinforced, fire-proof concrete, well-positioned emergency stairwells, and large windows for natural light. The building’s water needs were assisted by a 40,000 gallon rooftop water tower (which I wish had remained).

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

The lobby of the Merchandise Lofts is full of great historical photos

In 1953, Simpsons joined forces with Sears-Roebuck & Co. of Chicago in forming a 50/50 ownership in a new company, Simpsons-Sears Limited. The new firm took control of Simpson’s catalogue and mail-order business and would open new Sears-style department stores in markets not already served by Simpsons. It was seen as better-suited to compete with the strong T. Eaton Co. catalogue business and to use Sears marketing principles to expand into smaller Canadian rural and suburban markets.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

The Merchandise Lofts stands tall at the corner of Dalhousie and Gould

The Toronto Mail Order Building complex – which eventually came to be known by the less cumbersome name of “the Mutual Street Building”, continued to serve the needs of Simpsons-Sears. In 1971, the complex was connected to the department store chain’s new head office building at 222 Jarvis Street. (The Government of Ontario chose 222 Jarvis Street as a model to show that older buildings can be retrofitted to significantly reduce a building’s carbon footprint. The building achieved LEED Gold status for the building and now houses four ministries: Ministry of Government Services, Energy and Infrastructure, Research and Innovation, Economic Development and Trade, and Training, Colleges and Universities.)

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

The bridge between the Simpson’s warehouse and their head office, as seen in April of 1971

In January 1979, the venerable Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) bought Simpsons Limited in a hostile takeover, following a stalled and subsequently failed merger attempt between Simpsons and Simpsons-Sears. Simpsons-Sears continued to operate on its own, out from under its former parent, until 1984, when its name was changed to Sears Canada Inc. In 1991, HBC retired the Simpson’s brand, either merging the remaining (Toronto-area) stores into the Bay banner or selling them off to Sears, depending on the location.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

The Merchandise Building, still in use back in the 1980s

The Sears catalogue business continued after the Simpsons sale to HBC and Sears Canada continued to use the Mutual Street Building as a warehouse until the 1990s, before moving out and consolidating all its GTA catalogue operations at new distribution/warehouse logistics centres in Belleville and Vaughan. Sears then sold the Mutual Street property for development.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

Concrete floors and ceilings, combined with mushroom columns

Luckily, the new mayor of Toronto, Barbara Hall, had relaxed zoning restrictions in certain areas of the downtown core, allowing redevelopment of under-used or empty 19th and 20th century factories and warehouses. At one point there was talk of converting the warehouse into public housing, but the City wound up selling the property to Cresford Developments. Back in the mid-1990s when this all started, the project was one of the earlier and by far the largest warehouse loft conversions in Toronto. It is still the largest loft conversion, by far.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

Concrete, big windows, nice views… you get the idea if you have read this far

The ambitious plan to completely modernize the building was delayed by a general construction strike and a spectacular 3 alarm fire, started when a worker tossed a cigarette butt into one of the old freight elevator shafts, landing on a massive pile of debris. The huge pile burned for hours, but the building did not, testament to the original designer’s intent in 1914 to create a structure as fire-proof as possible.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

The gym at the Merchandise Lofts – where heavy things are lifted

Among the many modernizations is a green roof and coated windows to reduce energy loss. The roof is landscaped with a prairie meadow growing in two green roof plots. The green roof proper is approximately 10,000 square feet and is surrounded by an additional 15,000 square feet of hard surface concrete pavers. The total redesign and regeneration of this 1,070,000-square-foot complex is believed to be the largest of its kind in North America.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

Trust me, The Merch is an amazing place to live.

Other environmental upgrades include a “Tri-Sorter” recycling chute that accommodates 3 types of waste. The entire building is wired with fibre-optic cable, has a rooftop pool, patio, and dog-walking area, and all the usual amenities in a large condominium. The noted interior design team of Simone-Ciccone and the award winning designer Brian Gluckstein produced between them nine different loft layouts with over sixty variations. Notable interior features include 8-foot sliding barn doors, 12-foot concrete ceilings with support pillars, and ten foot windows.

Merchandise Lofts - 135 and 155 Dalhousie Street

The basketball half-court set up at the Merchandise Lofts – wanna shoot some hoops?

When it was finally completed in the late 1990s, the project garnered several awards including a commendation from Heritage Toronto and awards from the Greater Toronto Home Builders Association. The conversion even pleased the notoriously critical architecture writer for the Toronto Star, Christopher Hume, who gave the project an “A”. The Merchandise Building was one of the first large redevelopment projects east of Yonge Street, and sparked other projects in the area such as the conversion of the Toronto RCMP Building into the luxury Grand Hotel, the old CBC building on Jarvis Street into the new headquarters of the National Ballet School, and the storied Maple Leaf Gardens into a Loblaw’s supermarket and Ryerson University athletic centre.

—————————————————————————————————–
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.

—————————————————————————————————–

Medland Lofts – 235 Medland Street

Medland Lofts is a conversion of an early 20th-century Art Deco style building into ten creative urban living spaces. Nine of the lofts are two storey spaces on the second floor. These lofts all open onto private roof terraces – perfect for outdoor entertaining and summer BBQs. One main floor loft offers street level access and a private entrance, and is great for someone seeking a live/work space.

Medland Lofts - 235 Medland Street

The Medland Lofts at the corner of Medland Street and Dundas West

The Medland Lofts are located in the west Toronto neighborhood of The Junction, what has been named one of the top ten places to live by a number of different media. Home to artists, galleries, small businesses and restaurants, the neighborhood enjoys a strong sense of urban community.

Medland Lofts - 235 Medland Street

Some of the Medland Lofts have exposed brick, but not all

In the early 1980s the Malta Band Club moved into to the property at 235 Medland Street in the heart of the Junction. Support for the band and the club had increased to a point where they outgrew their previous facilities at the YWCA. A short time later the Malta Band Club purchased the Medland Street property and completed extensive renovations that culminated in the official opening of the newly revitalized premises in 1984.

Medland Lofts - 235 Medland Street

I have no idea when the addition as added to the Medland Lofts

It was then converted to lofts by 235 Medland St. Inc. in 2005, not in 1998 as everyone seems to think. It appears from old listings that the person behind the conversion was a Realtor, as the sales all note that the seller is a Realtor. Since Fred Dyer of Sutton Group was the listing agent, I have a sneaky suspicion it was him. And since his name as listed as seller on a lot of the land registry files, it seems a safe assumption. But there is nothing showing prior to 2005. Not sure if Mr. Dyer bought the building from the band or how it went from them in 1984 to lofts in 2005. And there is just a huge blank from 1984 back.

Medland Lofts - 235 Medland Street

Most of the Medland Lofts are more like townhouses

1924 Goad’s map shows something on the corner, but I cannot tell what it is. There are a ton of Toronto Archives photos from the 1920s that show the general area, but there is nothing that definitively shows the corner and what was there. The 1913 Goad’s map also shows something on the corner, something that looks the same as the 1924 and matches the shape of the building today. Going back to 1910 and we see something different, something that looks like rowhouses. Thus, I would like to think that 235 Medland was built sometime back between 1910 and 1913, but there is just no way to know for sure.

Medland Lofts - 235 Medland Street

The Medland Lofts do have lovely outdoor space

The Junction is one of the hottest neighbourhoods in Toronto and hasn’t reached its peak yet. The revitalization continues as the coolest shops and services continue to open. Even The New York Times loves it! 235 Medland is in the heart of it. Walk out your door to all the action.

Medland Lofts - 235 Medland Street

The Medland Lofts are in The Junction, one of Toronto’s trendiest neighbourhoods

Dubbed the “next West Queen West,” this area is well known for its enduring sense of urban community, its popularity among artists, its growing number of restaurants, and its position near the West Toronto Rail Path, a multi-use path that seeks to connect Parkdale, Roncesvalles, The Junction, High Park, Brockton, Beaconsfield, Liberty Village, Trinity-Niagara and Dundas West.

—————————————————————————————————–
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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