New in Toronto real estate: Union Lofts
Union Lofts is the former Perth Avenue Methodist Church turned residential; because youngins don't go to church anymore, and other modern tragedies. Situated at the corner of Perth and Wallace avenues and dating back to 1913, this George Miller-designed structure will maintain its exterior facade (save for a few stained glass windows) and welcome an adjacent "Vestry annex" with room for an additional 14 suites. Atheists (with a $5,000 deposit) welcome. Here's a closer look at Union Lofts.
Address: 243 Perth Avenue
Exterior: Church & Vestry building
Total number of units: 40 (26 in the church, 14 in the vestry)
Types of units: One bedroom, one bedroom + den, two bedroom, two bedroom + den
Unit sizes (in square feet): 552 - 1,202
Ceiling heights: 9'
Prices from: $249,900
Parking: $25,000 (For select suites)
Maintenance fees: $0.54
Architect: Caricari Lee Architects
Interior Design: Andrea Kantleberg
Expected occupancy: November 2014
I imagine downloading naughty material whilst inebriated and cursing is just that much more enjoyable from inside a church, for those who like their dwelling spaces to come with a healthy helping of irony. The condo-by-way-of-church is, apparently, the latest "it" loft du jour, with similar projects slated for Leslieville and over just east on Dufferin. And like both other projects, Union has been designed with maximum tenancy (read: monies) in mind, with adjacent "new" buildings to house additional condo units. But Union is unique in that its supplementary structure isn't a glass-clad fright (I'm looking at you, St. Clements), and has actually been designed to complement the aesthetic of the church, rather than starkly juxtapose. Granted, the "Vestry" doesn't exactly carry the same charm as the shell of the former Perth Avenue Methodist Church, but it doesn't present with ostentatious modernity à la ROM Crystal (no, not over it yet) and other Toronto attempts at heritage restoration.
Back to Union; it's not just the outside that presents impressively well. These suites, on the whole, are smartly laid out, with kitchen islands standard in each unit and upgraded gas cook tops. Where applicable (i.e. larger, two-storey units) stairs are out of the way as to not impede the flow of floor space, and walk-in closets and semi-ensuite bathrooms have been integrated wherever appropriate. Consider the specs of one of the mid-range Union units: currently priced at about $400,000, this 741-square foot unit in the church structure is a two-storey, one-bedroom unit characterized by a lower-level terrace and upper-level balcony (totaling 212 s.f.), one upstairs bathroom, his and her closets, and defined kitchen and living spaces. Perfect for a couple, and totally reasonable at about $540 per square foot. And no, I am not on the Windmill Development payroll (but would welcome a bonus cheque).
There are a few exceptions, of course (such as the one-bedroom with the window-less bedroom and Juliette balcony), but Union's layouts certainly impress.
The suites are one thing, the area is another, and the two are sort of hard to reconcile. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with Perth and Wallace — quite the contrary, actually, what with its heavy presence of families and a school just down the street. But it leads me to wonder; who is going to buy Union's 852 square foot one bedroom unit, with its ideal-for-entertaining 1,102 square foot terrace and direct elevator access? A King West bachelor hotshot? A Financial District power couple? Will they really abandon the wine bars of the downtown west for the Graco Quattro Tours of Perth Avenue? The incongruence is not necessarily a Union Lofts drawback overall, mind you, but it is a point to consider.
What might be an actual drawback, however, is proximity to train tracks. Ask a longtime Junction Triangle resident and they'll tell you the noise becomes background, but a sound-sensitive new resident might find the distraction intolerable. Especially if and when another project akin to the Diamond Grade Separation pops up. And while there are a few nearby gems to sweeten the potentially noisy deal, this area (especially Dupont to the north) is long overdue for a restaurant and bar reinvigoration. There are only so many broken bread sandwiches one can eat without feeling as though they've exhausted neighbourhood options. Maybe by the time November 2014 rolls around?
Gotta say, I like it. (And if anyone from Windmill has that cheque ready, I'll send you my mailing address.)
What do you think? Would you live here? Add your comments to the thread below.