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.


Queens Quay the ugly could become Queens Quay the grand boulevard

Amy Dempsey – Toronto Star

It could have been a grand promenade, a glorious gateway to Toronto’s Harbourfront.

Instead it is a boulevard of broken dreams, chronically dysfunctional and, for the most part, an unpleasant little strip of downtown.

Problems have forever plagued Queens Quay.Traffic is terrible. Getting there by transit is a pain.And though it is the closest street to the central harbourfront, much of Queens Quay is cut off from the water by a wall of tall buildings.

These days, with more condo development in the works, a walk from Jarvis to Spadina will leave you with a headache and a mouth full of construction dust.

A Canadian landscape magazine once ranked Queens Quay among the world’s worst streets, declaring it “perhaps the ugliest urban waterfront boulevard of any major city.”

Fast forward to 2015, however, and Queens Quay’s ugly days could be over.

A $110 million revitalization project launched last month after years of delay aims to transform a 1.5-km stretch from Bay St. to Spadina Ave. into a model streetscape.

The redesign will cut out two traffic lanes to make way for a wide pedestrian promenade, bike lanes and a new two-way streetcar corridor.

The plan’s architects have promised the new Queens Quay will be a “waterfront showpiece.” A “must-see Toronto destination.” This city’s Champs-Elysées.

Big dreams for a street that has always been the ugly duckling.

Like much of the central harbourfront south of Front St., Queens Quay was created on a massive pile of garbage, as landfill projects of the early 1900s extended the shoreline farther and farther into the harbour.

“So all those people who live in million-dollar condos are living on banana peels and Coke bottles,” says Toronto historian Bruce Bell, with a laugh.

For decades, the harbourfront was an industrial site. No one lived there. No one went there unless they had to. “Unfortunately, it was never a pleasure route at all,” Bell says.

An opportunity to improve the harbourfront and re-create Queens Quay came about in the 1970s and 1980s, when the city first sought to transform the area from an industrial centre to a residential and commercial district. Those grand plans turned into a wall of condos that block much of the west end of Queens Quay – and the rest of the city – from the waterfront.The decision to allow that kind of development has been widely criticized.

Bell calls it “the great shame of Queens Quay.”

Though there is no getting rid of the condos – in fact, five more are in construction along the south side of Queens Quay E. – the hope is that street-level revitalization will transform Queens Quay and the area from a summer tourist attraction to a year-round destination.

Jack Gilbert is old enough to remember a time when there was no Queens Quay, back when the area was all industry and train tracks and shabby diners.

As a 5-year-old in 1930s downtown Toronto, Gilbert loved running through the thick clouds of smoke when the trains went by.

Now 84, he has been living and working on Queens Quay for nearly two decades. A retired corporate securities lawyer, Gilbert is the kind of man who is baffled by those who retire at 55. He now runs a photography studio and sells his work to raise money for charity. Gilbert has been taking photos of his neighbourhood for decades and can’t remember a time when Queens Quay was functional or pleasant.

He doesn’t pretend to know everything about the street he lives on, but he can’t help worrying the revitalization will lead to more of the same – that the city is making new mistakes instead of fixing old ones.

“They haven’t convinced me that the project makes much sense,” he says.

Why, Gilbert asks, would anyone want to walk along a Queens Quay promenade when they’ve got the waterfront boardwalk? “What do you do on (the promenade) in the winter? Who needs it?” he says.

Gilbert wonders whether the money would be better spent on transit that would help connect the harbourfront neighbourhood to the rest of the city.

A celebrated plan to build a streetcar route along Queens Quay east of Yonge St. has been delayed. In June, Waterfront Toronto, the agency in charge of developing the lakefront, said the line turned out to be about three times more expensive than the $90 million budgeted. The agency is looking at interim solutions for the next five to 15 years until there are more people living and working on the waterfront.

Though Gilbert lives happily, with his wife, in one of the 1980s-era condos that separate Queens Quay from the waterfront – with a grand view of the Toronto Islands from his floor-to-ceiling windows – he laments the downtown layout and believes the harbourfront could have been better conceived.

“In an ideal world,” he says, “if economics didn’t dictate everything, I think things could have turned out differently.”

Though the Waterfront Toronto-led plan to improve Queens Quay has been in the works since 2006, shovels are only set to hit the ground in September, two years after construction was expected to begin.

James Russell, a neighbourhood resident and co-chair of the York Quay Neighbourhood Association, says there are some people opposed to the Queens Quay makeover, but he believes it is the best thing for the community.

“It’s certainly going to be an improvement from what we have now,” says Russell, who sat on the revitalization stakeholder’s committee.

The new Queens Quay from Spadina to Bay will have just two lanes of traffic on its north side, one going east and one west; a tree-lined granite pedestrian promenade and bike lanes running along the south side; and dedicated two-way TTC streetcar lines down the centre. The bike lanes will provide a continuous link for the Martin Goodman Trail across the waterfront.

Construction has been co-ordinated in three phases to ensure the street remains accessible during the work. Once the Queens Quay makeover is complete, there will be a five-year moratorium on tearing up the street.

“There’s not much we can do about the past, but I’m optimistic about the future,” Russell says.

“We just have to hang in there for 2-½ years, through all the dust and the dirt and the noise.”

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.