Tag Archives: Gothic Heritage Estates
Toronto’s densification has resulted in many significant choices for urban homebuyers
By Leslee Mason-Gomes – National Post
What do a church, a hilltop mansion and a hydro building have in common? They’re just a few of the loft conversions currently underway in Toronto. Though building from scratch may be easier and often less expensive, in a city with virtually no undeveloped land left, converting old structures into lofts is a win-win for developers looking for desirable locations and savvy homebuyers seeking something outside the cooker-cutter-type home.
It was its unique character that drew Eduarda Pita to purchase her 1,400-square-foot condo unit in The Abbey – a four-storey, 24-unit conversion of a 1910 stone church at 384 Sunnyside Ave. “It’s a beautiful old historic church designated as a heritage building,” says Ms. Pita, a mortgage specialist with one of the large banks. Features include two-storey penthouses and exposed limestone. “The building has immense presence.”
Turning old buildings into loft spaces is a new phenomenon in Toronto. It’s been happening in New York and Chicago for 50 years. The first legal loft conversion in the city was built in 1982, and since then, the breadth and depth of the conversion market has expanded dramatically.
Initially appealing almost exclusively to edgy urbanites, creative types and computer geeks, conversions – often revamped factories or warehouses – generally popped up in grittier sections of the city, often signaling the revitalization of older areas. These “authentic” loft buildings tend to be small – usually containing no more than 50 units – and boast exposed beams and bricks, soaring ceilings, polished concrete floors, warehouse-style windows and open plans.
While most converted lofts are condominiums by legal definition, not all conversions fit the “loft” bill. Rather than warehouse chic, many current conversions offer luxurious settings and exceptional finishes and features, appealing to buyers who want both vintage style and modern conveniences. These days, loft conversions crop up in even the finest neighborhoods.
A stately old High Park mansion that was built for the first mayor of West Toronto in 1889, designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, has been renovated to create seven custom-designed and upgraded residences called Gothic Heritage Estates. Each of the seven suites offers a private courtyard or terrace with views of High Park, graceful rooms and period details.
And take The Benvenuto, south of St. Clair Avenue at Avenue Road. Formerly a luxury rental apartment and hotel, it was designed by Peter Dickinson, the architect who created the Hummingbird Centre (then called O’Keefe Centre) and the Park Plaza Hotel.
With its architecture, ravine and city views, and proximity to shops and amenities, it was the ideal location for luxury condominiums, says developer Mitchell Abrahams, president of Malen Capital. “It’s a very rare site,” he says.
Boasting 116 suites ranging in size from 500 to an impressive 3,486 sq. ft., its finishes include exotic hardwood floors and 18-inch marble tiles in the kitchen and bathroom. In the lobby, stunning views of the ravine come courtesy of floor-to-ceiling windows. Suites range in price from $350,000 to $3.5-million.
Unlike standard condominiums, where the biggest changes between units may be only the view, conversions often offer a variety of differences between suites. “I’ve got the whole stained-glass arch,” says Ms. Pita of her penthouse unit in the former church.
At the Madison Avenue Lofts, at the foot of Casa Loma at Madison and MacPherson avenues, there are 100 different floor plans in the six-storey building, which used to house wired bundles for Toronto Hydro.
“We completely stripping the old exterior of the building”, says Tony Barry, vice-president of development for Burnac. The finished loft building features art deco touches and offers buyers an exclusive address with all the conveniences of an upscale loft lifestyle.
Common-area features include a rooftop terrace, fitness centre with showers and steam and change rooms, a multi-purpose room with a large kitchen, a meeting room and 24-hour concierge service. The 211 lofts, which range in size from 545 to nearly 1,800 square feet, feature ceiling heights from 10 to more than 14 feet, stately eight-foot doors throughout, granite kitchen counter tops, nine-foot tall upper cabinetry and marble tile floors in the bathrooms.
In conversions like Madison Avenue Lofts and The Benvenuto, it’s the winning combination of architecture, history and luxury that strike a chord in buyers, people who appreciate vintage style and luxury, says Ms. Pita. “I could go out and get a brand-new Porsche,” she says by example, “but I’d rather go with a vintage luxury car.”
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