Tag Archives: conversion
Atria Developments introduced Garment Factory Lofts, a new live/work industrial conversion that will revitalize a former garment factory. Garment Factory Lofts is located in the Queen Street East neighborhood, one that is undergoing an exciting resurgence between Logan Avenue and Leslie Street to form a hip Downtown Toronto East.
This neighbourhood is fast on its way to becoming an urban success story. Garment Factory Lofts is just down the street from the Distillery District, and steps from Leslieville. In the vicinity are eateries such as Verveine and Gio Rana’s Really, Really Nice Restaurant.
Popular nightspots include Barrio, where regulars sip martinis and enjoy tapas-style treats while a DJ spins music on Saturday night. When the proposed changes to the Toronto Film Studio suroundings become reality, that entire area will be home to new retail, residential and live/work housing, adding to the urban tapestry.
Designed by award-winning Core Architects Inc., the eight-storey Garment Factory Lofts meld the original brick faÃ§ade of the warehouse with modern steel and glass to create a striking whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The building terraces back begin at the third floor, and are distinguished by an acid green canopy that will grace the entry on Carlaw and extend back into the lobby. Every loft offers a glazed balcony or spacious terrace with amazing views.
The Garment Factory Lofts features 150 lofts comprised of studios, one-bedroom, one-bedroom plus den/workspace, two-bedroom, and two-bedroom plus den/workspace, and penthouses with views of the lake. Priced from just $139,900, these lofts, will range in size from 525 to 1,303 square foot and offer the lowest price per square foot of any authentic loft in the city.
The spectacular model loft by Fleur-de-lis Interior Design Inc. contains examples of the building’s interesting architectural details such as the original fluted columns, ceilings that soar up to almost 12 feet, and large windows. The model kitchen will feature modern Wenge-stained cabinetry, a stone backsplash and island with a stone top. This one-bedroom plus den/workspace also showcases a gas stove, gas BBQ hookup, and an optional gas fireplace.
Atria Developments is known as the creator of i-Zone live/work lofts, located across the street from Garment Factory Lofts. i-Zone was a major catalyst for change in the surrounding neighbourhood, and is now home to artists, filmmakers, photographers, and other creative spirits. The development of the Garment Factory Lofts will bring a further greening to this former industrial neighbourhood with the inclusion of a parkette that backs onto Boston Avenue.
Atria Developments is a family-owned and operated company specializing in the revitalization of former industrial urban areas by renewing existing sites.
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For many, moving to an urban apartment is about tapping into the excitement and cultural opportunities of the big city and can also mean a shorter commute to work. But finding a place in the city can mean sacrificing the larger living spaces found in the suburbs or country. Increasingly, urban dwellers are finding that loft apartments offer the location and opportunities of city life with far more space than average condos or apartment homes. What’s the idea behind lofts, and why are they so popular?
Lofts have a certain allure. With high ceilings, open floor plans, rough-hewn floors, and brick walls, they are a hip housing alternative for many urban professionals. Today’s loft dwellers embrace new-age metropolitan living in all its glory.
Those who buy these unique dwellings have shaken off long daily commutes, granting them more personal time, more cultural and entertainment possibilities and an active, city lifestyle. If you crave something eclectic, out of the ordinary and convenient to all the city has to offer, a loft may be for you! Select from newly constructed (soft) lofts, or restored historical building loft conversions (hard lofts).
One definition for a loft found on the Web is — An appeal against convention- convention in thinking, convention in building and convention in living. They are a celebration of open concept living and unconventional spaces brought about by the considered application of imagination and a rejection of mass-market housing.
The origin of the word loft comes from the Old Norse lopt which means “upper room “or “air”. In 19th-century English usage the word came to mean “the upper stories of a warehouse or factory”. The modern boom in the conversion of such spaces into living areas came in the 1940s in the SoHo District of New York City. By the 1970s so many of these conversions had been done that the city was forced to re-zone the area to make such conversions legal.
By the 1980s the concept was spreading first across the United States and then to Europe and Asia. As the trend grew it caught the attention of developers identifying a new market. Developers being developers did not let a lack of owning an existing warehouse or factory building to convert stop them from moving into the new market. Thus the new word loft began to be applied to units in ground up new construction. Needless to say the term grew fuzzy.
By 2005 the term loft has matured. Lofts created from spaces in existing buildings are called hard lofts or true lofts. Lofts built new from the ground up are typically referred to as soft lofts or new lofts or loft-inspired or mezzanine suites. Whether created out of an existing building or built ground up new, all lofts have certain common elements or they are not lofts.
Lofts are part of the Postmodernism movement in architecture. Postmodernism is a counter- reaction to the strict and almost universal modernism of the mid-20th Century. It embraces elements from historical building styles incorporating them without a rigid adherence to one style. It also does not as policy try to hide the structural or mechanical elements of a building but often uses these in the design.
What is a “hard” loft?
A true loft is a conversion of a vintage factory or warehouse. They have a harder edge as they are usually constructed of concrete or “mill” construction of exposed brick, original wood posts, beams and floors. Typically, these lofts have an open floorplan and unfinished ceilings that are at least 10′ high with exposed ducts, plumbing and electrical. Examples include the Merchandise Building, Liberty Lofts and the Toy Factory Lofts.
What is a “soft” loft?
In recent years developers have built new buildings with some of the characteristics of a hard loft such as high ceilings, big windows and open floorplans. These lofts typically have a softer edge… no exposed ducts and plumbing, carpet in some areas and upscale kitchens and baths. Soft lofts have more in common with traditional condominiums than a true hard loft.
What is an “artist live/work” loft?
Toronto bylaws allow for the development of buildings with “artist live/work” zoning. The first of these developments appeared on Shanly Avenue (near Queen and Gladstone) and most featured minimal finishing, 16′ ceilings and steel frame construction. The City’s zoning restricted their use to people who were engaged in a precisely defined list of artistic activities. Over time these buildings have come to be occupied by people who simply enjoy the loft life.
Here are some of the unique joys of the loft life:
* Industrial buildings – The term loft began in New York and Chicago when renters and owners began turning old industrial buildings into living spaces. The original tenants were artists who craved the high ceilings, large windows and open floor plans typical of converted warehouses and factories.
* Open spaces – The primary benefit of loft living is the large open spaces that allow you to live and move how you want, rather than having your movement defined by a permanent floor plan of walls, doorways and rooms.
* Define your areas – In a loft, the floor plan can be fluid and ever changing. You can set up a sleeping area in one part of the space, then move it somewhere else if you have guests or if you just need the area for another use. Kitchens and bathrooms are more permanent, of course, but temporary partitions, hanging curtains, or even changes in floor covering can define other spaces.
* Eclectic style – Another nice aspect of many lofts is the opportunity for eclectic design and decorating. For example, a loft might feature soft, delicate window treatments on reinforced factory windows, or a modern couch sitting on a hundred-year-old hardwood floor. This mixture of old with new and practicality with comfort can form a wonderful esthetic that makes the most of a loft’s mixed-use nature.
* Open, flowing floor plans
* Minimal uses of interior walls to define space and doors to close off areas
* High ceilings – some definitions set minimum ceiling heights at twelve feet or it is not a loft just a condo with high ceilings
* Exposed piping, ductwork, structural elements
* Large windows
* Access to the sky often with roof top gardens or decks
* Easily merges living and work space, blurring the lines between workplace and residence
* Mixes traditional mediums with modern finishes- concrete, metal, stone, brick, wood used freely alongside of drywall, ceramic tile and viny
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 Laryssa Stolarskyj
Are you caught in a quandary choosing the ideal condo because you’re enthralled by historic buildings but aspire to owning new? Two Toronto-based developments – The Benvenuto and Madison Avenue Lofts - combine the finest in historic and modern.
Mitchell Abrahams, president of Malen Capital, said the renovation of The Benvenuto at St. Clair and Avenue Road made for an ideal conversion project. The heritage-protected building was originally constructed in the 1950s as luxury apartments. The generous suite sizes, convenient location, views, and amenities made it “the perfect candidate to be renovated; it has the cachet of being the best luxury address in town,” says Abrahams.
The Benvenuto is an important site historically. The original Benvenuto mansion dates back over 150 years, when the builder of the Annex, Simeon James, constructed it to overlook his sprawling new neighbourhood. Its ravine marked the shore of Lake Iroquois (now Lake Ontario), and William Lyon Mackenzie lived in it before it was demolished in the 1950s. Peter Dickinson, architect of the current building, brought an innovative clean-line approach to the city and “left a mark on Toronto in terms of modernist architecture,” says Abrahams, with features such as balconies and banded windows that let in more light than standard windows.
The Benvenuto was built with no structural walls, only columns, so Malen was free to move walls around to create seamless suites. The ability to add big, modern bathrooms and closets gives residents “the best of heritage architecture and space planning to make sure that each suite in the building is redesigned with the best layout,” explains Abrahams.
Tony Barry, vice-president of development, explains that Burnac wasn’t looking to renovate an existing structure. But when the building – which also had the advantage of a superb location – came on the market, Barry was convinced that the company had to acquire it. He says when he first walked into it, he felt its atmosphere was akin to that of an ancient European cathedral. “It was a magnificent structure and we were able to retain that structure.”
Barry explains that although it would have likely cost less to demolish the building and start anew, there were particular features, for instance the high ceilings (which are 12 to 14 feet), that warranted modernizing it into livable, useable space. He notes, “the building is solid, lending itself to a loft product. It was crying out to be renovated; it’s unique.” Barry additionally cites the columns as another feature that adds substance, allowing Burnac to offer a one-of-a-kind condominium.
The process of conversion, however, is significantly more difficult than building new. Malen redeveloped throughout existing occupancy, so details were planned with tremendous coordination to ensure that residents were impacted as little as possible. Abrahams says this meticulousness is worthwhile “only in a building that merits the effort.”
Barry explains that there are more unknowns with a 50-year-old building than with a brand new one, including the major obstacle of not being able to get to know it until actually being in it. Adding parking is another hurdle for Burnac. The original building had no underground parking and adding a new garage beneath the existing structure would be too expensive, if not impossible. Fortunately, the area adjacent to the building can accommodate underground parking, and the top of the garage will host a landscaped courtyard and new wing. Other obstacles that will increase time and cost factors include removing the cladding to add soaring windows that will let in lots of light, creating a new art deco-inspired exterior, and working slowly to preserve the mature trees that border the site.
But the advantages are numerous. Conversions protect buildings with architectural heritage, of which there are few in Toronto. And residents can live in a place with history and enjoy top-quality location and views that simply wouldn’t exist in a new construction in a midtown neighbourhood.
Although conversions offer distinctive features and advantages that new buildings lack, they’re not likely to become the norm. Legislation makes conversions difficult, so only top buildings and locations even make the short list. But Abrahams says it provides an opportunity to reposition luxury buildings and give them “new life in a loft with fantastic locations that are irreplaceable.” Barry concurs, noting “there are fewer and fewer buildings that lend themselves to it in the right locations, but where opportunities present themselves, we’ll carry on taking them.”
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