Toronto Loft Conversions

Toronto Loft Conversions

I know classic brick and beam lofts! From warehouses to factories to churches, Laurin will help you find your perfect new loft.

Modern Toronto Lofts

Modern Toronto Lofts

Not just converted lofts, I can help you find the latest cool and modern space. There are tons of new urban spaces across the city.

Unique Toronto Homes

Unique Toronto Homes

More than just lofts, I can also help you find that perfect house. From the latest architectural marvel to a piece of our Victorian past, the best and most creative spaces abound.

Condos in Toronto

Condos in Toronto

I started off selling mainly condos, helping first time buyers get a foothold in the Toronto real estate market. Now working with investors and helping empty nesters find that perfect luxury suite.

Toronto Real Estate

Toronto Real Estate

For all of your Toronto real estate needs, contact Laurin. I am dedicated to helping you find that perfect and unique new home to call your own.

 

A property that’s different is like gold

Former light industrial and commercial spaces have a special attraction for some buyers who want more than an ordinary home

Kathy Flaxman – Globe and Mail

Like the loft concept? Able to see past a dilapidated building? Join the crowd. Industrial or commercial spaces have long attracted the artistic community who can see potential. Such buildings are in increasingly short supply, but there’s still high demand for them and lately, the quirkier the space, the better.

“A property that is different and kooky in a downtown location is like gold right now,” says Ed Niedzielski, of Sutton Group Realty Systems Inc., who has been involved in the sale of many such properties, including the Drake Hotel.

Sometimes the living conditions in these buildings are Zen-like, and sometimes they are very… unconventional.

Erik Calhoun’s residence has seen life as a Jamaican church, a tobacconist, variety and video store. Remnants of rotting fruit, charred ceilings and mice, plus a dark basement room strung with herbs, served to evoke its various incarnations when he purchased the building on Davenport Road in Toronto six years ago.

Now a light well brings natural rays into two levels, and, next to a book-lined living room, his dining-room table holds tidy stacks of building-permit drawings, exactly as befits an architect/designer with his own company: Re: placement Design. A kitchen featuring a raised island and rich brown eucalyptus cabinetry opening onto a sunroom off a deck and a greenery-filled city garden complete the open-plan main floor. On the lower level, there is an office, bedroom and bath, while upstairs is a second self-contained apartment, one bedroom plus den.

The space works perfectly, but not everyone would have seen the possibilities. “This building had suffered through two fires and a flood,” Mr. Calhoun recalls. “It was in poor repair throughout. What I wanted was a loft, but with a front street-level entrance and a back garden and a garage. I didn’t want to have to take an elevator to my home or deal with a condo board. I wanted the space to be open plan and I wanted the kitchen to be the centre of the space – the kitchen is the centre of any home, an important room.

The previous owners had built the sunroom and deck illegally, and I had to go through the [City of Toronto] Committee of Adjustment to get approval, but I had title insurance, which covered all my costs. I paid just over $200,000 and spent about $60,000 in renovations here. In my work, I am very budget-conscious and like to help people save money rather than spend it.”

Eric Weiner, a photographer, is taking over a storefront space on Sorauren Avenue in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood, where he plans to open a gallery by the first of October – showcasing his photography and digital artwork, and living and working on one level, in what he envisions as “Zen-like” conditions. “I have a fair amount of renovating to do first,” he says. “There is some drywalling, installing track lighting, painting and so on,” he says. “Life will be simple, pared down to the essentials. But this place has the potential.”

Speaking of potential, it’s easy to see, seated at Le Select Bistro, that an ugly, rundown building can be turned into a showcase of elegance and joie de vivre. Monika Merinat, a real-estate agent with Coldwell Banker Terrequity Realty in Toronto, is also one of the bistro’s owners. She notes that it had been a print shop and a pub, and has been treated to an entirely new façade as part of a recent major renovation.

A number of her clients are seeking this kind of blank palette on which to create their dream space. “They like the idea of a lot of light, which a many old buildings offer,” she says. “They are often artists of some type. People will pay over asking [price] for a small, dilapidated space, and there may be multiple offers. Something with an industrial or commercial feel is sought-after.”

Niedzielski, of Sutton Group Realty, agrees. “There are a lot of people who want something quirky,” he says. “Having a building in a location that is off the street in an alley is considered really cool right now. We’ve been through trends like restoring Victorian buildings, and this search for unusual downtown properties is a newer trend.”

A case in point is a small storefront property on Sackville Street in Cabbagetown, which sold recently for $90,000 over the asking price. Agent David Rose of Bosley Real Estate Ltd., who along with partner Penny Brown listed the property, noted that it had no parking, no land and was just “raw product.

“A well-known artist had lived there with his studio for a number of years,” Mr. Rose said. “There were six or seven offers to purchase the place.”

An industrial or commercial feel reaches its zenith at the home/studio of steelwork artisan James McLeod, whose Ossington Avenue ground-floor workshop features a wood stove for backup heating, compressor, numerous metal-working tools and a good supply of stainless steel. Upstairs, the second-floor living quarters are spare and cool, with blue walls and flooring highlighted with LED lighting.

Industrial or commercial feel reaches its zenith at this Ossington Avenue workshop

Industrial or commercial feel reaches its zenith at this Ossington Avenue workshop

The kitchen? There is a stand for small appliances, including a coffee maker, toaster oven and microwave. The toilets (there are two) are the electric waterless kind. In fact, nowhere in evidence is running water; this property is not connected to the sewer system.

Mr. McLeod laughs when he talks about it. “I bought this place as a workshop,” he says. “In 2001, I renovated it and moved in, but the city wanted an enormous amount of money for the sewer hookup. I go to the Y for a whirlpool and shower at the end of my day and can barbecue on my balcony. Plus, the area has a wealth of great restaurants and takeout-food places and three laundromats.”

Partly, the lure of old, neglected downtown buildings is tied to the limited supply of them, but there’s also the challenge they represent. Certainly Mr. Calhoun is fascinated by making the best use possible of a small space. In fact, his next project will entail making a home for a single person in the smallest space possible.

“The plan is to use innovative design ideas for dual-use spaces, convertible furniture and built-ins and hidden storage,” he explained. “Inspiration for the interior will come from such sources as train compartments and ship’s cabins. If a family of four can live in a motor home, it should be possible to make luxurious accommodation for one person in the same area, something like 8 feet by 15 feet!”

All that remains is locating that treasured find: a property that’s old, rundown, packed with possibilities and, in this case, small.

————————————————————————————————————

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

————————————————————————————————————

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *