One of only a handful of loft conversions in the Yonge & Eglinton area, the Soho Lofts at 188 Eglinton Avenue East are housed in an eight-storey converted office building with a total of eighty nine largish lofts. The Soho Lofts was completed in 1998 by The Starwood Group.
The Starwood Group is headed by Bruce Greenberg. His company developed the the Soho Metropolitan Hotel (which also has condos) in 2003 and the Hazelton Hotel in 2007. He bought 188 Eglinton in the mid 1990s originally to use as office condominiums. That plan didn’t work, so he converted the building to residential condos, to lofts. On a side note, he is also an investor in the Wahlburgers franchise in Canada.
Starwood also converted two other office buildings (the Soho Bayview Lofts at 562 Eglinton East and the Soho Lofts at the Starwood Centre at 477 Richmond Avenue West). He has built many other buildings in Ottawa with the Soho brand, it is a very common theme in Greenberg’s projects.
The types of units at the Soho Lofts include one bedroom/one bathroom, two bedrooms with one bathroom, up to the largest with two bedrooms and two full bathrooms. The unit sizes range from around 700 square feet and up to 1,200 square feet. The Soho Eglinton features much of what you might expect from a loft conversion, including 11-foot-high ceilings, huge multi-paned wall to wall windows, sliding doors on industrial rails, and the usual variety of modern finishings.
The maintenance fees at the Soho Lofts are fairly high, around a dollar per square foot – which is not unusual for buildings with fewer units to spread the cost over. It covers the heating, central air conditioning, electricity, water, common elements and building insurance. There is no owned parking, it is all rental (as with the other two “Soho” lofts by this developer). The amenities at the Soho Loft include a security system, a sauna, rooftop deck and garden, party room and an exercise room.
The Soho building at Eglinton and Redpath is closely related to the TTC. The opening of the Yonge Subway in 1954, and extension of Eglinton Avenue eastwards across the Don Valley, were catalysts for a new wave of development. This resulted in increased development of mid-rise commercial and office buildings near the Yonge-Eglinton intersection, as well as tower-in-the-park rental apartment blocks in the neighbouring areas to the south and to the east.
There was already a large and well-known industrial area between Leaside and the Don Valley, but this was a more white-collar expansion. While many of these office buildings are still standing today, everyone in the neighbourhood remembers the collapse of the Union Carbide building in 1958… a low point in the area’s history. They did eventually re-build the office and it stood on the corner from 1960 until it was demolished in 1999. The site is now the home of the Eglinton Place condos.
In one photo taken of the aftermath of the collapse, you can see 2 small buildings on the site now occupied by the Soho Eglinton Lofts. So the building was definitely built after 1958. Redpath is blocked with a fence in the photo, to restrict access due to building debris. Three apartments were torn down, the little one sandwiched between the Soho Lofts and the Panache Condos just to the east is the last of the apartments that were on that stretch on Eglinton.
Checking aerial photos of the city, I saw apartments on the corner until 1977, then the current building is in the next set, in 1981. So we now know for sure it was built between 1977 and 1981 and was not built in the 1950s as many had previously assumed. There is no historical record for the building, so I had to go with indirect evidence to figure it out. Still no idea who built it or what companies operated out of it for the almost 20 years it was a working building.
It don’t think the Greenbergs built it, they deal only in residential and hotel properties from what I can tell. Bruce Greenberg is the son of John Greenberg, the scion who launched Mastercraft Starwood in 1951 and built condos across Ottawa, with his first building (an apartment) completed in 1956. Bruce moved on to Toronto, with his first Toronto project completed in 1982. While Starwood has moved back to focus on Ottawa construction, they have maintained an office at 188 Eglinton, on the 8th floor.
The Soho Lofts are located on the north side of Eglinton just east of Yonge Street. The Soho Lofts is close to major amenities such as parks, shops, retail plazas, hospitals, major highways and public transportation routes. The closest parks to the building include Sherwood Park to the north of the property, as well as Eglinton Park to the west of the property.
The grocery stores that serve the residents of the Soho Lofts include Metro, Sobey’s, Pusateri’s and No Frills – all within a short drive or walk from the building. The Soho Loft are close to the 401 to the north, as well as the Don Valley Parkway to the east. The Eglinton bus is right at the doorstep, which takes you to the Eglinton subway station and from there to anywhere in the city. The completion of the Crosstown LRT will be a nice bonus for Soho owners.
When I helped a client buy a unit there, my first experience in the building, it stood pretty much alone at the corner of Redpath and Eglinton. Now, it is totally surrounded by condos, you almost wouldn’t notice it.