The Distillery District is a national historic site, with 13 downtown acres and over 40 buildings forming the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian industrial architecture in North America. It is also Toronto’s first pedestrian-only village, and one of Toronto’s only designated historic districts.
If you live the urban lifestyle – or if you’d just love to live in an Victorian industrial village – the Distillery District is the perfect location for you. For those planning to live in the city, Toronto’s analogue to SoHo or Gastown is only a 10-minute walk to the heart of downtown and a 90-second drive to the Gardiner or DVP.
You will have all sorts of cool stores and restaurants right at your doorstep. You will also be enjoy the renowned European style “patio culture” during the warmer months. This is living at the center of the arts scene, where culture is created and lived everyday. Imagine strolling with your family through the brick-paved streets day or night, never having to worry about cars or traffic.
Stretching eastward from Parliament Street to the West Donlands, south from Mill Street to the CN railway tracks, this newly-popular address is based around the site of the old Gooderham & Worts Distillery, founded in 1832. This was once the largest distillery in the world, sending over 2 million gallons of whiskey all over the world in its heyday.
During its lifetime, the Gooderham and Worts Distillery played a vital role in the growth and wealth of the city of Toronto. Even after the Prohibition era, this huge plant still survived. After over a century and a half of continuous production, the distillery ceased operations in 1990. It immediately became one of the most popular filming locations in Toronto – and continues to be used for that purpose. Some of the more well-known films shot here include Cinderella Man, Chicago and X-Men.
When the distillery closed its doors in 1990, the potential for investment and redevelopment was evident; however, with the economy in recession, the crash in downtown office lease rates and residential condominium prices put the district’s revitalization on hold. While two residential condo buildings were built on the periphery in the 1990s, many years passed before the site was purchased by Cityscape Holdings Inc. in 2001 and the transformation into a pedestrian-oriented arts and entertainment district began.
The Distillery Historic District opened in May 2003 and quickly became a vital part of the city and one of its top tourist attractions. The new owners refused to lease retail and restaurant space to chains or franchises and, accordingly, the majority of the buildings are occupied by unique boutiques, art galleries and restaurants – including a very popular micro brewery and brew pub. The upper floors of a number of buildings are leased to artists as studio spaces and to office tenants with a creative focus. A new theatre, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, is home to the Soulpepper Theatre Company and drama productions from nearby George Brown College.
Almost a decade into its transformation, The Distillery District has become one of the most romantic destinations in Toronto. The brick-lined streets and European piazza-styled areas have earned the Globe and Mail’s description as “a picture postcard draw” and National Geographic Magazine’s designation as a “top pick” for visitors to Canada.
With development of residential condos, offices and more retail space on the surrounding vacant lands, the transformation of the Distillery District from abandoned industrial site to one of Toronto’s most distinctive neighbourhoods is only going to accelerate. Never mind the positive effects of the huge West Don Lands Project directly abutting the Distillery District to the east, as well as the Pan Am Games.
Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416−388−1960
Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor with Century 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who are
interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.
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