A block from High Park itself, near the corner of Indian Road, is an amazing boutique building that marries the charm of years past combined with the latest in green technology. Originally built as a luxury apartment building in 1918, 53 High Park Boulevard was converted by Realtor/developer Neil Spiegel (of Circa and Oxygen) in 2009 into 4 massive lofts.
The 8,000-square-foot building had four 2-bedroom apartments, and now sports 4 units with 2 or 3 bedrooms. Main floor units are 2,030 square feet and the penthouses are 2,190 square feet. Three have outdoor space and parking, penthouses coming with 2 spots. And satellite imagery reveals the eco-friendly green roof.
The original apartment building would have been part of the second wave of apartment construction in Toronto. The first took place beginning in 1899 with the construction of the St. George Mansions at 1 Harbord Street, across the street from the spot now occupied by the amazingly brutalist Robarts Library. Interestingly, the introduction of apartments provoked considerable opposition, on moral, sanitary and economic grounds, because of the challenge they presented to the current orthodoxy on property ownership and lifestyle.
By 1912, by-laws were starting to be passed that prevented them being built; mainly in “elite” areas such as High Park. My guess is that this building made it to completion due to its small size – fitting in with the neighbouring homes – as well as the large unit sizes. In those days, luxury apartments were welcomed as evidence of metropolitan sophistication but more modest buildings were condemned as potential slums. Looking at the building next door, larger and with that oddly angled entrance… I wonder what its story is.
The building came up for sale in the mid/late 2000s and Spiegel saw an opportunity. He bandied the idea around with a friend for a while, until the concept coalesced. Spiegel and his partners (Ann Shin, Jennifer Penney and Donald Cole) decided to undertake the unique challenge and transform the 90-year-old High Park apartment into a modern, green condo.
53 High Park Boulevard now marries original historical features with contemporary conveniences. It was almost completely gutted and renovated using the latest green technologies and techniques to create four new 2,000-odd square foot condos. These are not your usual condos. They feature a state-of-the-art Geothermal heating and cooling system and ultra high insulation in the walls and attic, which reduces heating and cooling costs to less than 20% of the usual costs for residence of this size. They have radiant floor heating in all washrooms, and a heat recovery ventilator as well. This means the fees are LOW, with a savings of up to $10,000 per year for a comparably sized condo. And that includes all utilities.
Additionally there is extensive sound proofing throughout, utilizing floor and ceiling decoupling with RSIC sound isolation clips, double drywall and mass loaded vinyl and flooring. The roof is slightly pitched and covered in six inches of dirt and 1,200 square feet of sedums, small plants that will retain water and reduce run-off.
All of this is located two blocks from the shops of Roncesvalles Village, less than one block to High Park, and a short drive to the Gardiner Expressway. Truly a beautifully-designed home on a prestigious street, surrounded by a wonderful neighbourhood, delivering the best of what Toronto has to offer.
On an interesting side note, High Park magazine was published out of there in the 90s!