On The Map

Old Won­der Bread fac­tory big part of Les­lieville de­vel­op­ment

National Post (Latest Edition) - - POST HOMES - Matthew Hague

Ex­posed brick walls, lofty ceil­ing heights, soar­ing ware­house win­dows — these el­e­ments add charm to fac­tory lofts con­ver­sions. They can also make them more ex­pen­sive, as de­mand for char­ac­ter suites out­strips the city’s cen­tury-old ware­house stock.

One in the dwin­dling ranks is Won­der Con­dos, un­der con­struc­tion in Toronto’s Les­lieville neigh­bour­hood. Five of the eight storeys at 462 Eastern Ave. are be­ing fit­ted into the old We­ston Bread fac­tory, a 1920s fa­cil­ity that, un­til clos­ing in 2014, cranked out count­less loaves of the Won­der Bread the project is named for. The re­main­ing three storeys will be mod­ern, glass- clad units set on top. Even though both apart­ment types will have ac­cess to the same ameni­ties — a gym, a co- work­ing sta­tion and a pet- wash­ing bay — suites fea­tur­ing the orig­i­nal brick- and- beam con­struc­tion sell for $ 1,300 per square foot, $ 300 per square foot more than the new-build units.

Part of what jus­ti­fies the price jump here, and in fac­tory con­ver­sions in gen­eral, is ceil­ing height: at Won­der, the in­dus­trial lofts have four- me­tre ceil­ings, com­pared to a three- me­tre canopy in the new sec­tions.

Con­ver­sions also tend to be more com­plex to de­velop. Re­mak­ing Won­der has been finicky enough that two devel­op­ers — Al­terra and Gray­wood — are col­lab­o­rat­ing.

“Gray­wood took on the de­vel­op­ment and plan­ning re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and Al­terra took on the con­struc­tion,” says Neil Pat­ti­son, a vice- pres­i­dent at Gray­wood De­vel­op­ments.

Their wish to pre­serve his­tor­i­cal el­e­ments and weave them into the de­sign was a key fac­tor that brought the com­pa­nies to­gether. “Won­der wasn’t tech­ni­cally des­ig­nated a her­itage prop­erty,” says Pat­ti­son. “But we knew the city would still re­quire us to con­sider its her­itage.” That wasn’t a prob­lem, as far as Gray­wood was con­cerned, he says. “There was never a ques­tion of us tear­ing down and start­ing over. Many of the homes in the area were built to house peo­ple work­ing in the fac­tory. It’s an im­por­tant land­mark in Les­lieville.”

Gray­wood De­vel­op­ments al­ready had a taste of what it’s like to nav­i­gate her­itage guide­lines. It pre­served the fa­cade of an old ware­house when it built Five St. Joseph Street, a 48- storey high­rise just north of Yonge and Welles­ley. But Pat­ti­son rec­og­nized early that his com­pany could learn from Al­terra’s her­itage ex­pe­ri­ence. It has turned a for­mer Catholic School build­ing into a lux­ury mid- rise at Yorkville’s 36 Hazel­ton, and at 105 Ge­orge St., at Ade­laide, knit to­gether a con­tem­po­rary tower and his­toric post of­fice.

Build­ing a new struc­ture around a her­itage fa­cade is

one thing, says Rob Cooper, CEO of Al­terra. “It’s com­pletely dif­fer­ent when you’re in­cor­po­rat­ing the ex­ist­ing slabs, col­umns and walls. There are no 90- de­gree an­gles in a build­ing con­structed over 80 years ago. Noth­ing is level.”

As Cooper points out, in or­der to deal with the sur­prises that can pop up mid- con­struc­tion dur­ing a project like this — hid­den col­umns that don’t ap­pear in the orig­i­nal floor plans, the wonky duct­work pok­ing through walls — it’s im­por­tant to have an ex­pe­ri­enced ground crew, as well as builtin lee­way for ex­tra time and costs. “This type of work can be painful,” he says.

But it can also be re­ward­ing. De­spite the chal­lenges, Al­terra and Gray­wood De­vel­op­ments have found a lot of room to be cre­ative in the 289- unit struc­ture, 91 per cent of which is sold out.

“There are a num­ber of el­e­ments from the fac­tory that we have sal­vaged that are now be­ing used by the in­te­rior de­sign­ers,” says Pat­ti­son. “We found large freight-el­e­va­tor doors. Those are go­ing to be used as slid­ing doors into the move- in room. We also kept some of the large in­dus­trial cool­ing racks that fer­ried bread around the fac­tory. Some of those are go­ing to be re­pur­posed as light chan­de­liers in the lobby.”

“That’s where the fun comes in with a build­ing like this,” says Cooper.

Its his­tory ap­peals to the older, more es­tab­lished buy­ers who’ve signed up, who mostly in­tend to live in their suites. “Hav­ing all the her­itage dis­tin­guishes us from the new-build con­do­minium down the road,” says Cooper. “In five years’ time, when some­one is liv­ing here and they tell their friends, ‘ I live in Won­der,’ they are go­ing to hear, ‘ Yeah, I know that build­ing.’ The her­itage adds value. Ul­ti­mately, it’s the most im­por­tant piece.”

Suites start at $ 903,900. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit won­der­con­dos.com.

Three ad­di­tional storeys com­ing to the old We­ston Bread fac­tory, a neigh­bour­hood land­mark

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Alte rra and Gray­woo d De­vel­op­ments

Won­der Con­dos are named for the count­less loaves of Won­der Bread the old We­stons Bread fac­tory cranked out.

Many of the her­itage Won­der Con­dos units will fea­ture ex­posed brick walls, soar­ing ware­house win­dows and lofty ceil­ing heights, some as high as four me­tres.

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