The loftification of Lower Ossington
The loftification of Lower Ossington has been in the works for some time. The wealth of derelict storefronts and boarded up buildings have been ripe for the plucking, and the shift from the old guard to the tall, glass-and-concrete boxes in the sky has local residents and business owners divided.
I have nothing against the city's love affair with loft-condo hybrids. In fact, I'd one day like one. But the new Toronto condos are seemingly marketed towards out-of-towners looking to capitalize on the stereotype of a given neighborhood, and it chafes me. 109OZ claims to be "undeniably Ossington," but Paul Ferguson of the Communist's Daughter rightly asks what that means. Is it the old Ossington, respectful of the area's cultural heritage and sense of community, or is the new Ossington, hurriedly heading towards gentrification?
He also acknowledges how difficult it is to turn down a cash fallout of the sort that old businesses courted by lofts can expect. Paul notes the difference between "conscious gentrification and wholesome interest" - many lofts capitulate too readily on a community's personality as a "cash grab," but he hopes that the old Ossington won't be lost in the mix.
Not that there's anything wrong with capitalism and revenue. Ricky, a long-time area resident, thinks the entreat of high-priced lofts will hike up property prices in the area - good news for property owners, including the area's elderly Portuguese community, but potentially bad news for renters. Ricky also suggests the stores that have remained boarded up for so long were an eyesore and the lofts promise to be an aesthetic boost. In particular, 2 Ossington had fallen into shambles and marked an unfortunate entry onto a street ripe with galleries and restaurants.
Gentrification is a double-edged sword. It brings in money and clientele while potentially sacrificing the historical elements of a neighborhood. As I ventured along the street trying to get a sense of locals' reaction, I expected someone to bemoan the blotting of the sun, construction noise, and other related concerns but everyone was fairly positive about the cosmetic element of the lofts. That might change once construction begins in earnest.
Here's a closer look at the lofts currently under development.
Motif Lofts (41 Ossington Ave)
Motif bought out the former site of Hesco Electric Supply Company, and is starting construction on a mixed-housing development that includes 19 lofts over four stories, a ground floor aimed towards commercial endeavors, and five town homes. The now sold-out lofts are set to offer industrial ceilings and open space, with a starting price of $315,900, while 6 town homes starting at $829,900 will stretch down Rebecca St. with glass, steel and wood exteriors and loft-inspired interiors. A collection of four freehold town homes are planned further down Rebecca St. The website capitalizes on the cache of the neighborhood, while pointing to "kitschy" store names. The Ossington Village website cheekily notes that "At least they didn't call it HipsterVille."
109OZ Lofts (109 Ossington Ave)
109OZ took over the former home of Mundial Auto Repairs and a private Portuguese club in the heart of Ossington Ave. This 6-story boutique loft structure will contain approximately 90 units, and is slated to be the ultimate in nouveau-loft-chic with a focus on glass, brick, and metal and featuring east-facing terraces and glass balconies. Pre-construction prices are advertised as beginning in the upper $200,000s - a surprisingly modest sum for Toronto. The website isn't forthcoming with further details, as pre-sale hasn't yet launched, but their marketing materials point to "Inspired Lofts. Undeniably Ossington." and features vibrant splashes of color. You won't find a sales centre until mid to late April, but when I spoke to the sales team, they mentioned that Mundial had happily sold and moved to Keele and Rogers Road.
2 Ossington Lofts (2 Ossington Ave.)
Presented by NDS Properties Limited and SMV Architects, 2 Ossington transforms a space previously inhabited by a half-way house for recovering CAMH patients, into an 18-unit construction, divided into nine 1-story and nine 2-story soft lofts with terraces, and retail space on the ground floor. There'll be no recreational amenities, but high-ceilings, energy efficient features, open duct work, and stainless steel appliances come standard. The project is completely sold out, but an automated voicemail hints at new projects in the area.
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