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Forest Hill is one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in central Toronto. Along with Lawrence Park, Rosedale and The Bridle Path, it is one of Toronto’s wealthiest neighbourhoods. Forest Hill, like Rosedale, is considered one of the finest and most prominent neighbourhoods in Toronto. While the forest has long been replaced by luxury residences, the neighbourhood, with its rolling landscape, remains one of the prettiest and most appealing places to live in Toronto.
Visitors to Forest Hill are usually greeted by the Upper Canada College clock tower on Avenue Road. Upper Forest Hill Village is dominated by Tudor and Georgian style homes, but the architectural styles range from French Colonial with terra cotta tiles to English country manors with sweeping lawns. Luxurious details such as sculpture gardens, porte-cochères, and imposing gated entrances are common and quite widespread. Forest Hill also contains a fair number of historic luxury condos and co-ops located west of Spadina on Lonsdale Road.
Within Forest Hill is a smaller community known to locals as Cedarvale. Homes in Cedarvale are slightly smaller than those in Forest Hill, and the ravine that cuts through the neighbourhood is a source of local pride.
Notable institutions located in Forest Hill are the local Montessori School, Upper Canada College, the Bishop Strachan School, and Forest Hill Public Library. There are numerous churches and synagogues and two theatres.
Forest Hill was originally incorporated as a village in 1923, and later annexed by the City of Toronto in 1967, along with the Village of Swansea. The village was named after the summer home of John Wickson; previously it had been known as Spadina Heights (a name that continued to be applied to the neighbourhood into the twentieth century). Spadina Heights is a derivative of the Ojibwe word “ishapadenah”, meaning a hill or sudden rise in land. Oddly enough, the historically accurate pronunciation is “Spad-dee-na”, though time has changed the way we say it to the current “Spa-die-na”.
In the late 1960s, the City of Toronto planned to construct a highway that would run from Highway 401 to downtown Toronto via the Cedarvale Ravine and Spadina Road. Forest Hill and the Annex would be bisected by the proposed route and numerous local houses would be sacrificed for the new expressway. Jane Jacobs led local residents to rise to protest and raise the awareness of the greater public. The provincial government was forced to withdraw its support for the so-called Spadina Expressway in 1971. The upper half of this route remains today as the Allen Expressway.
When Forest Hill was annexed by the City of Toronto, the agreement granted local residents the right to have their garbage picked up from their doorstep rather than from the curb. It wasn’t until 1993 that the public learned that this extra service cost $420,000 a year and was paid for by the municipal government and public opinion of other Torontonians forced the city to discontinue this favour to Forest Hill residents
The neighbourhood’s original boundaries were Bathurst Street to the west, Upper Canada College to the east, Eglinton Avenue to the north, and Lonsdale Road and a portion of Montclair Avenue to the south. Neighbourhoods north of Eglinton are sometimes though not unanimously regarded as Forest Hill.
In 1999 Robert Fulford compared Forest Hill to Rosedale, the other traditional home of Toronto’s elite: “While Rosedale has remained stable for half a century, Forest Hill’s prestige has been growing steadily. There’s a key tonal difference in the architecture of the two places: where big Rosedale houses shout ‘history,’ big Forest Hill houses shout ‘grandeur.’ More than any other district in the central city, Forest Hill has become the site of spectacular new ‘neo-traditional’ homes built on a grand scale, usually with lawns to match.”
Forest Hill Village is a part of Forest Hill occupying most of the original area of the village and extends roughly from Briar Hill Avenue in the north (the Upper Village, officially part of Forest Hill North) to Heath Street in the south (the Lower Village, officially the major part of Forest Hill South) along Spadina Road between Bathurst Street/Cedarvale Ravine (whichever is further east) and Avenue Road. The designations Upper and Lower are simply based on land height and not on positions on a map or along a watercourse.
The Lower Village was completely developed by the 1930s and is known for its upscale shopping and dining, although the actual mix of stores includes several modest enterprises. The Lower Village has attracted extensive residential development (especially of apartments), both within the original boundaries of Forest Hill and in adjacent neighbourhoods to which developers have now extended the Village and Forest Hill names.
The Upper Village was slower to develop due to the fact it had previously been occupied by the old Belt Line Railway, and then by industry. Its houses were built mostly in the 1940s and 50′s. Many homes have been significantly renovated, with some being torn down completely to make way for newer “monster” homes.
Forest Hill North extends from Briar Hill Avenue in the north to Eglinton Avenue West in the south, and from Latimer Avenue in the east to Allen Road and Marlee Avenue in the north-west and south-west, respectively.
As the name would imply, Forest Hill South is directly south of Forest Hill North. It extends from Eglinton Ave West in the north to Tichester Road in the south, and from Bathurst Street in the west to Elmsthorpe Road in the northeast and Avenue Road and the Oriole Parkway in the east. There is an additional stretch of Forest Hill South between Bathurst Street and Spadina Road, north of Lonsdale Road.
The density in Forest Hill is fairly low as composed of mainly low-density housing. The housing is predominantly detached houses with several semi-detached and town homes. Although it is mainly low-density housing, the lots are not as large as the ones found in the suburbs. Forest Hill detached homes are mostly on smaller lots with the houses close to each other. Higher-density and mixed uses are found at the major roads and nodes of the neighbourhood mainly on Eglington Ave, St Clair West and Spadina Ave. At those major roads, it is the only place we see different uses other than residential. There are grocery stores, convenient stores, coffee shops and offices in those areas.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416−388−1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
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By Sydnia Yu – The Globe and Mail
More than 35 years ago, Kenair Apartments Ltd. did something unique: It designed a rental apartment complex called The Lonsdale that had many of the features often seen in today’s condominium buildings. Over the years, tenants have been provided with luxury accommodations, as well as amenities such as valet parking, a hand car wash service, a 24-hour concierge and a doorman.
Now, Kenair is gradually converting it into a condominium, and it believes its management record at the apartment complex will be a major selling point with buyers.
“Sometimes when you’re buying in a brand new building, you don’t know how it’s going to be managed because it has no reputation yet,” says Ron Schmidt, Kenair’s vice-president of operations. “But at The Lonsdale, you know what you’re going to get, which is the highest level of service and attention.”
The company built The Lonsdale’s 18– and 20-storey towers in 1971, on a 1.3-acre site at 619 and 625 Avenue Rd. Four townhouses, fronting on Oriole Road, are also part of the complex.
The Lonsdale’s prestigious location north of St. Clair Avenue overlooking Upper Canada College has also attracted purchasers, including many from the surrounding low-rise neighbourhood, Mr. Schmidt says. About half of the 115 units are sold.
Units become available for sale only if tenants vacate them. Each one is then gutted and remodelled over a period of about five months. Purchasers can select from a collection of floor plans or create one from scratch.
“The ability to do a customized home approach in a condominium is very unusual,” Mr. Schmidt says. “[This] is a very important element, particularly for the high-end market, because you’re dealing with a more sophisticated purchaser who, a) can afford that, and b) know what they want.”
There will be two to four units on each floor. They range from 1,735 to 3,500 square feet and have between one and three bedrooms.
“[Purchasers] love the suite sizes, which are unusually large compared to what is normally found in the marketplace,” Mr. Schmidt says.
Some units will have a den, traditional kitchen with a breakfast area, or a master bedroom with a walk-in closet and en suite bathroom featuring a tub and separate shower stall.
Finishes will include oak hardwood floors in the principal rooms and carpeting in the bedrooms. There will be marble bathrooms, and kitchens with mirrored backsplashes, granite countertops and undermounted sinks. Stainless-steel appliances, laundry machines, parking and a locker are included. There will be a monthly maintenance fee of 60 cents a square foot.
A more visible change is the addition of solariums in place of open and enclosed balconies. “We replaced [windows in the enclosed balconies] with a brand new floor-to-ceiling, triple-glazed … system that, architecturally, matches the windows in the rest of the building, so it looks as if it was always there,” Mr. Schmidt says.
The amenities have also been improved: A new party room, conference room and larger fitness facility were added to the existing heated outdoor pool, patio and landscaped gardens.
Name: The Lonsdale
Location: Forest Hill
Builder/developer: Kenair Apartments Ltd.
Price: $865,000 to $3-million
Square footage: 1,735 to 3,500
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