Worx Lofts – 436 Wellington Street West
Carved from the old Monarch Building (which was originally known as the Croft Building), the Worx Lofts are located just west of Spadina Avenue on Wellington. The Worx is about as authentic a loft as you can get – big open spaces averaging 1,200 square feet, with 10-1/2 to 12-foot ceilings, exposed wood columns and ceilings, exposed brick and large windows.
This stretch of Wellington Street West is pretty amazing, with both The Worx Lofts and the even more impressive 468 Wellington Lofts. Add the new lofts of 500 Wellington and it is easy to see why this block is sometimes called Millionaire’s Row. The Worx Lofts is six storeys tall, and is home to just 34 one and two-storey hard lofts ranging in size from 980 to 1,880 square feet.
The lofts range from ground floor units that are partly below grade up to top-floor lofts that are just spectacular. The top levels in this building house spacious 2-storey units with large terraces. Regardless of their location in the building, the lofts here are open concept layouts with vintage exposed brick and wood beam construction, complete with large warehouse windows. The lofts on the north side (back) of the building usually take up the whole end of the building. With balconies, windows on three sides and private elevator access, these are the prime units.
The old Monarch Building is on the north side of Wellington Street West in the long block sandwiched between Spadina Avenue on the east and Portland Street to the west. The six-storey warehouse was completed in 1915, according to tax assessment rolls. It was originally known as the Croft Building after William Croft and Sons, the original tenants. And strangely, the original address was 436-38 Wellington Street West. Somewhere along the lines, we lost number 438.
Croft was known for a variety of enterprises over the years. The first mention was in 1919, when a new pipe maker was added to city directory: a William Croft and Sons Ltd. is listed at 436-438 Wellington Street. They were listed as such from 1919 through to 1930.
They may also have made fishing lures, ones that are collectable today. Some of the more enthusiastic collectors note that William Croft operated a business in Toronto from 1855 until the 1940s. Originally called “Wm. Croft & Co”, then “Wm. Croft & Son”, then “Wm. Croft & Sons”, the company sold needles, smallwares and fishing tackle. He had a sons named William Jr. and Anthony (and even a grandson who was also named William).
At one point, Croft’s original business location at 53 Bay Street was burned to the ground in the Great Toronto Fire of 1904. He then moved to 61-63 Front Street, then again to 126-132 Queen Street West, then finally to Wellington Street West. What is really interesting is that the one and only fatality in the 1904 fire was John Croft? The original Croft business was destroyed in that fire, one could see family trying to help put it out… I read mention by someone, regarding the fire and the historical plaque on Croft Street (of Croft Loft fame) that their grandfather was William Croft, who was John’s son. I would love to know for sure, if anyone has further information.
Oddly, the address given in their 1914 catalogue was 76-78 Wellington Street West. I bet they were there temporarily as they had the building at 436-438 built. Croft & Sons were manufacturers and importers of many goods as shown in their catalogues. They advertised “Archer Brand” needles and fishing tackle. They were manufacturers and importers of fine fishing tackle, as well as makers of their own flies. Croft & Sons were well-known for their metal lures, and they also carried many other tackle makers’ products.
Other Toronto directories list a Croft & Sons under the heading of “Playing Cards”. Elsewhere in the same directories, Croft & Sons is listed as a wholesale dealer in fancy (ornamental) goods, notions, smallwares, and other miscellaneous items such as combs. In a 1918 advertisement, Croft & Sons describes itself as a wholesaler for “fancy goods, notions, smallwares, dolls and toys, needles, fishing tackle, sporting goods, hammocks, fireworks, flags, tobacconists’ sundries, pipes, cutlery, baseball goods, druggists’ sundries, brushes, purses, bags, leather goods, casseroles, cut glass, toilet and manicure sets and playing cards.” So there you go, Croft sold a bit of everything.
In the early 1940s, Croft’s old warehouse was renamed the Monarch Building following the occupancy of the Monarch Belting Company, makers of conveyor belts. They were not the Monarch building company that many think.
By at least 1941, the Monarch Belting Company moved in (and changed the name over the door). For whatever reason, prevailing wisdom had it that Monarch moved in in 1948, but they are listed in a 1941 government trade publication under ANIMAL PRODUCTS GROUP: BELTING LEATHER. They were also listed in 1945 version of same publication. With the address 436 Wellington Street West. This proves they were in the building prior to 1948.
Monarch was also mentioned in the 1946 edition of the The Gateway: Year Book of the Toronto Bible College. But that is the only other mark they left. There is pretty much no information about them out there. Not sure if they made only conveyor belts, or did they also make the belts that connected old factory machines to the ceiling-mounted power drives.
Monarch must have left at some point, and it looks like portions were leased out the in 80s and 90s. But I cannot find decent records of who actually owned the building. I found an old lease on MLS in 1993 that has Lee Mar Developments Limited as the owner. In 1987 Dynamic Restaurant Club was offering the main floor for rent. Could be sub-leases, hard to know for sure.
There is no record on MLS of the building having sold, to a developer or anyone. The lofts themselves were first listed on MLS in 1997 by B.G.N.R. Development Inc. The initials probably partly reference John Berman of Waterloo Capital and Matthew Rosevelt, who were the designers and developers. Conversion started in 1997 and the condo was registered in 1999.
The building was designed by C. J. Gibson. Following training in Toronto and New York City, Gibson formed a partnership with Henry Simpson before opening his own firm in 1893. Gibson designed churches, houses and industrial buildings in Toronto, including residential commissions on Jarvis Street and in the Rosedale and Annex neighbourhoods. Many of his projects, including St. John’s Norway Church (1893) at 256 Kingston Road are recognized on the City’s heritage inventory.
Not only are The Worx Lofts part of a block of jaw-dropping lofts, the Monarch Building is part of a collection of industrial buildings that date to the early 1900s and share similar forms and setbacks from Wellington Street West. West of the Monarch Building, the Houlding Knitwear Building (1916) at 462 Wellington, the Butterick Publishing Building) (1915) at number 468, and the adjoining Granatstein Buildings (1907) at 482 and 488 are listed on the City’s heritage inventory. The Monarch Building helps preserve the character of the King-Spadina neighbourhood as it developed in the early 20th century as Toronto’s primary industrial area with carefully-detailed, medium-sized warehouses. As such, the property was listed on the City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties in 1974.
Now, the Worx Lofts are situated right near the heart of today’s King West entertainment strip. Amazing fine dining experiences and some of the best entertainment offerings in the city are right outside your door. Less than 2 kilometres from the financial district, the Worx Lofts are popular with the white-collar crowd. These are some of the most spacious and luxurious authentic hard lofts in Toronto.
They rarely come up for sale, though. Most common are the bottom level units, which are not everyone’s cup of tea. Lofts on higher floors are maybe an annual thing, if you are lucky. Expect to pay north of $1m for higher floors, a LOT more for PH units. Bottom floor units can still be had for under $1m.
Fees are not too bad for the size, though nothing is included. Parking is all surface, though. As for amenities… you have a gym membership, right?
Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960
Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write every article, some are reproduced here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.