Toronto-based builders Carlyle Communities and CentreStone Urban Developments have purchased several Bathurst Street properties totalling approximately 8,000 square feet on the western edge of the city’s Fashion District with plans for an 18-storey residential tower on the site.
“Everything south of Adelaide is already developed, so we saw this as kind of a strategic opportunity to grab the last remaining parcel on Bathurst between King and Queen,” says Carlyle Communities President Naram Mansour of the acquisition.
The land deal, which closed about a month ago, includes five row houses from 149 to 157 Bathurst Street.
RAW Design, which was behind Carlyle Communities’ Beach Hill Residences, currently under construction in the Upper Beaches, will also take on this project’s design, confirms Mansour. He says the high-rise development will be a “unique boutique-style development” that’s “more forward-design-esque.”
Mansour also revealed it will include “give or take 150 units,” though the type of dwelling the structure will include is not yet clear. “The one thing that we haven’t fully decided is whether we’re going to go rental or condo on this project,” explains Mansour.
The builders are mulling purpose-built rental units in part because of the strong demand for rental in Toronto — the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation pegged the vacancy rate at 1.6 per cent in October, well below the 3.3 per cent national average — as well as the appeal the neighbourhood has for renters.
“We believe this neighbourhood commands a real premium for rental,” says Mansour.
Compounding this is the fact that the Upper Beaches project gave Carlyle Communities a taste for rentals. “We now have familiarity with that process. Between my partners and I, there’s a history in owning rental buildings and managing them,” notes Mansour.
“We like that business, and we’d like to do more of it if we could, but obviously we’re particular to the location and the opportunity.”
The Fashion District, sometimes labelled the Garment District, is part of a former industrial pocket of Toronto that also spans the Entertainment District.
With much of the manufacturing industry — including the textiles businesses from which the Fashion District earns its name — gone, warehouses in the area today host office space, including a growing number of tech firms.
If Carlyle and CentreStone’s project moves forward, it will join a number of large residential developments in preconstruction or under construction in the area, including the oneeleven Condos, steps away at Bathurst and Adelaide, The Harlowe just to the north, and Fabrik Condos at the corner Richmond and Spadina Avenue.
Meanwhile, the Entertainment District has in more recent years become one of the most striking examples of Toronto’s condo boom. Highlighting the area’s still rapidly unfolding transformation, four separate proposals for 120-metre-plus-tall condo developments in the Entertainment District were discussed at a city single community meeting in the late last year.
Meanwhile, on King Street, the southernmost border of both districts, Toronto council has approved plans for Mirvish+Gehry. At 92-storeys and 1950-units, the condo project from famed architect Frank Gehry would dwarf even the TIFF Bell LightBox, a mixed-use development that hosts the Toronto International Film Festival, just down the road.
Given that, it’s no surprise development has intensified in the areas surrounding it, and a number of factors made the decision to move forward with the purchase of the Fashion District lots an easy one for Carlyle Communities.
“High-rise living lends itself well downtown living, where there’s a lot of amenities that don’t have to be within your actual building [and] where transit is readily accessible,” says Mansour.
“We love the area, our office is in the area, I live not too far from there, and we have another project that’s also just further east on Richmond Street West,” he adds.
The developers have already begun the process of getting the property rezoned to allow for a project of the size they have in mind. “We haven’t put through the application, but we’ve been working on the application,” says Mansour.