Heritage properties should always be treated with care and respect, especially when incorporating them into new uses and designs. From churches to century homes, it is quickly becoming a common occurrence for developers to incorporate some kind of heritage property into their new condominium towers.
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Graywood Developments and MOD Developments, in conjunction with ERA Architects, are going above and beyond the usual heritage restoration with FIVE Condominiums, a new project at the corner of St. Joseph and Yonge Streets. “What’s interesting here is that this is one of the largest restoration facade projects that has been undertaken in the City of Toronto, and probably the country,” said Stephen Price, the chief operating officer at Graywood Developments.
The new mixed-use development is definitely gaining attention. Be it the businessman who’s looking for a home close to work, or a small family who is looking for a downtown address, FIVE Condos has been a huge hit, with the project’s now being 85 percent sold out. “The project overall has been a huge success,” Price said. “BILD project of the year, it is a great site with a great location. It’s gathered a lot of publicity, based on its location and design, but more so for the heritage element.”
The care that Graywood and MOD have put into ensuring that the development will capture and enhance the heritage aspects is impressive. “They are very important buildings. They go back to the 1880s. There are seven buildings that were owned by Rawlinson Cartage, which was one of the area’s biggest moving companies dating back to the turn of the century,” said Ryan Love of ERA Architects, the architectural firm that Graywood and MOD have brought in to manage the restoration of the heritage buildings. “We have been charged with restoring all the facades, including the Yonge Street properties as well. We will be taking down some of the bricks for salvage use, and using them as part of the facade.”
FIVE Condos at St. Joseph, a 45-storey glass tower that will sit atop a four-storey podium, will definitely be a head-turner. The podium, which will be built within the Rawlinson warehouse, will consist of a mix of lofts, as well as feature a rooftop garden. There will also be 13,000 square feet of outdoor amenities. The real highlight of the project will be the energy that it will bring to Nicholas Street. The small, forgotten, cobblestone road will be revived with new shops and boutiques.
With construction well underway, Price and Love are excited at the project’s progress. “It’s one thing to look at a rendering, but to see that we are actually retaining it and to see the efforts that we are going to to ensure that the heritage aspects are respected, that’s another thing,” Price said. “All the windows will be replaced and restored to their original designs. All the wood and roof elements will also be restored. It’s definitely an exciting project for us. I think it will look really nice once it’s all done. It’s really going to set the tone for the area.”
When FIVE Condos is complete, Price sees multiple benefits the tower will bring to the neighbourhood, such as a more lucrative retail environment, and a sense of respect for the city’s rich history. “I’d like to think that the residents and the people in the area will say that Graywood and its team were leaders in helping rejuvenate Yonge, south of Bloor,” he said. “The most positive feedback we could get is if the building gets replicated in the area,” he added, meaning that other developers will follow similarly duly respect heritage buildings. “It’s always more costly to build a project like this, but at the same time, it’s rewarding when we see the results that we feel we will see here.”