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Merchandise Building Original Lofts

The Merchandise Building is a unique hard loft space converted from the historic Sears Merchandise building.

Just south of the Church Street Village and as part of the Ryerson University community, The Merchandise Building Lofts are one block east of the Dundas Square – Eaton Centre corridor and the Yonge subway line.

The Merchandise Lofts – located at Dundas Street East and Church Street – is one of Toronto’s largest loft conversions with over 500 suites. The development features 12-foot ceilings, exposed concrete ceilings, polished concrete or hardwood floors and massive mushroom columns. Glass-partitioned bathrooms, elevated bedrooms, granite, open-concept kitchens and huge solid maple sliding doors are some of the key features. 155 Dalhousie Street has some of the best facilities of any Toronto hard loft building, including 24-hour concierge, outdoor pool, party room, basketball court, fitness facilities, guest suites, and common terraces. The Merchandise Building showcased the demand for loft living in Toronto.

The lofts feature customer designed kitchens, polished concrete floors, solid maple barn doors and dramatic fluted columns.

The Merchandise Building community includes a spectacular urban roof garden with lap pool and barbecue terrace; recreation and relaxation facilities including a half-basketball court and a contemplative garden/sitting area; and all round retail facilities including a full-line Dominion store.

Once in a while a building comes along and changes the way people think about real estate in Toronto. This loft is one of those buildings. It’s the largest loft conversion in Toronto, taking up an entire city block right in the middle of downtown Toronto, and has over 500 luxury loft suites carved out of the old Sears warehouse. Each suite features a clever use of space, along with 12-foot ceilings, exposed concrete ceilings, concrete or hardwood floors, massive mushroom columns, elevated bedrooms, sexy glass partitioned bathrooms and huge sliding doors. Step outside your suite and get the best features a residential loft conversion could offer – 24-hour concierge, outdoor pool, party room, great fitness facilities and common terraces.

Completed in 1998, the Merchandise Building is one of the largest developments totaling 1,000,000 square feet and covers an entire city block. This building was originally the Sears Warehouse built in the 1930’s and now holds hundreds of hard lofts. One major feature is it’s location, only a few blocks from Yonge and Dundas, the Eaton Centre and Ryerson. Some of the many facilities of this building are the party rooms, outdoor pool, lap pool, partial basketball court, exercise room, billiards and two guest suites. Most units are single level deep rectangles with huge windows and great downtown views. The ceilings are atleast 12 feet and many suites feature exposed concrete, hardwood floors and massive mushroom columns. Some units have glass partitioned bathrooms, elevated bedrooms, granite countertops and huge solid maple sliding doors. Parking is underground and an added benefit is a full grocery store on ground level. Sizes start at 450 square feet and reach 2,500+ square foot 2 storey penthouses with huge terraces.

The Merchandise Building Lofts (135 & 155 Dalhousie Street) is one of the true hard lofts in Toronto that was converted into residential lofts back in year 2000. The entrance of the Merchandise Building Lofts is on Dalhousie Street, right next to the 24-hr Dominion Supermarket and Ryerson University. There is the entrance on the first floor and lobby on the fourth floor. Within the Merchandise Lofts, there are amenities that reach far beyond what one might expect from other loft projects. This true loft has views of downtown Toronto skyline and beautiful roof garden with indoor swimming pool that would impress anyone.

The Merchandise Lofts are very popular with young professionals because of its location to everything from restaurants, theatres, shopping district, business district and the new Dundas Square across from the new Virgin Record Store.

Transportation from The Merchandise Lofts is as easy as just walking out of the front door. Dundas subway station and streetcar are just within 1 min. walking distance. Gardiner and Lake Shore Blvd. West are just within a five minute drive away, providing easy access to the D.V.P. and Q.E.W.

The Merchandise Building Lofts is also great for real estate investors as it is right next to Ryerson University and just a few subway stops from George Brown College. As investors, you can have young professionals, students or young family that simply just love the convenience of living in downtown Toronto.

The Merchandise Building is a classic example of the renowned Chicago School of early 20th century industrial architecture. It is a loft conversion of a historic warehouse located in downtown Toronto on Dalhousie Street, near the campus of Ryerson University and the Toronto 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.

The oldest part of the site is a six-story manufactory built in 1910 on Dalhousie Street for Simpson’s delivery business. Behind it on Mutual Street in 1914 the growing company added the “Robert Simpson Co Ltd Mail-Order Building”, 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 building architect was Max Dunning of the firm of Burke, Horwood and White. This noted Canadian firm’s other work in Toronto includes what is now the CityTV building on Queen Street West and the Simpsons (now Bay) flagship store at the corner of Queen Street and Yonge Street. Contrary to popular belief, Dunning and his firm were not responsible for the Tip Top Tailor Lofts – although sharing many design aspects with the Merchandise Building, it was produced in the year 1929 by the firm of Bishop & Miller.

The Robert Simspson 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.

The complex – which eventually came to be known by the less cumbersome name of “the Mutual Street Building”, continued to serve the needs of the company until the winds of economic change forced it to close its catalogue service in the mid 1970′s and sell out to one of its old rivals, the venerable Hudson’s Bay Company, which eventually retired the Simpson’s brand in 1991. Many properties were sold to Sears Canada, including the old warehouse. When that company moved its catalogue operations to the suburbs in 1991, it became the property of the City of Toronto.

Happily at the same time 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. There was a plan to convert the warehouse into public housing, but the City in the end sold the property to Crestford Developments (some say for a song). The project was one of the earliest and by far the largest warehouse loft conversions in Toronto. 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 dumped from all the floors to be cleared from the bottom. 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.

Among the many modernizations was a green roof and coated windows to reduce energy loss. Other environmental upgrades included a “Tri-Sorter” recycling chute that accommodates 3 types of waste. The entire building was wired with fibre-optic cable, has a rooftop pool, patio, and dog-walking area, and all the usual amenities in a large condominium, plus some unusual ones including a 4-story interior lobby and indoor half-basketball court. The noted interior design team of Simone-Ciccone and the award winning designer Brian Gluckstein produced between them nine different primary suite layouts with over sixty variations. Notable interior features include 8 foot sliding barn doors, 12 foot ceilings with exposed duct work and support pillars with capitals, and ten foot windows. The ground floor of the building is retail, anchored by a 24-hour supermarket.

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 has sparked other projects in the area such as the conversion of the Toronto RCMP Building into a luxury hotel, the old CBC building on Jarvis Street into condominiums and the new headquarters of the National Ballet School, and the plan of opening a hypermarket in the storied, but now vacant, Maple Leaf Gardens.

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


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