With attendance declining and maintenance costs increasing, many church congregations in Toronto have closed their doors and sold their properties. This has allowed developers a unique opportunity to redevelop these old buildings and restore them to their former glory.
The Alhamra United Church at 260 High Park Avenue in the city’s High Park North neighbourhood was originally built in 1908 by architecture firm Burke, Horwood and White. The neo-gothic church was purchased by Medallion Capital Group in 2015 and the developer is now in the midst of rejuvenating the heritage property as it becomes the centrepiece of its 260 High Park condominium residence.
The development is now under construction, and when completed, will house 15 Sanctuary Lofts consisting of one-bedroom, one-bedroom-plus-den, two-bedroom, two-bedroom-plus-den, and three-bedroom-plus-den units. Available suites range in size from 837 to 3,081 square feet and include an expansive loft, complete with its own private tower.
Surrounding the church will be a four-storey, new-build residence with 55 suites and luxury amenities. Mixing modern and classic architectural elements, the exterior of the building features elongated spans of glass, integrated balconies, a central courtyard and a brick facade.
Amenities include a lobby with a 24-hour concierge, multi-purpose lounge with a double-sided fireplace, and a fitness centre with state-of-the-art cardio equipment, a yoga studio, sauna and private change rooms. Residents will also have access to outdoor amenities like a landscaped courtyard area, private outdoor garden, and a rooftop terrace with lounge areas, barbecues and a fire pit.
The development team consists of Turner Fleischer Architects, who are handling the modern addition, while ERA Architects and Boston-based Finegold Alexander Architects are in charge of the church conversion.
Construction on the project began in the fall of 2019 when the project site and an adjacent single-family home were fenced off and an official groundbreaking ceremony was held. Site preparation and excavation took place throughout most of 2020, and included the demolition of the home on the southeast corner of the lot.
Today, the rear portion of the attached schoolhouse on the church’s west wing has been demolished, leaving its dark brick-clad facade, which will be incorporated into the new residence. A portion of the main church’s interior has also been gutted, though the exterior and signature red brick remain largely unchanged.
At the rear of the church, crews have excavated the area where the new glass structure will be located. This section will house the majority of the condo suites, amenities and underground garage, and will be connected to the heritage property through the main lobby and central courtyard area.