160 FALLINGBROOK RD., UNIT 208, TORONTO
ASKING PRICE: $699,900
TAXES: $3,945.00 (2013)
MAINTENANCE FEES: $452.23 a month
AGENT: Amy Polson (Royal LePage Estate Realty)
The back story
Several years ago, Robert Mitchell stood at the corner of Fallingbrook and Kingston roads at the upper edge of Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood.
Where passers-by saw an auto repair shop and a coin laundry, Mr. Mitchell envisioned a building reminiscent of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater residence.
“It just seemed to fall together – the location and the topography and the name of the street,” says the developer and Beaches resident.
The country house Mr. Wright built for the Kaufmann family over a waterfall in Pennsylvania in 1936 is now a National Historic Landmark in the United States.
Mr. Mitchell liked the idea of designing a building with strong horizontal lines. He also wanted to create outdoor terraces that would take advantage of the site on a rise of land that offered views of Lake Ontario for many units. For the exterior, he used Owen Sound Ledgerock to represent the connection with nature and strong rooting into the ground characteristic of Fallingwater.
The building, with 42 units, is topped by a green roof to control storm water and offset the urban heat island effect.
Completed in 2009, 160 Fallingbrook is one of many mid-sized projects Mr. Mitchell has completed in the city.
In 1982 Mr. Mitchell transformed the premises of the Dominion Felt Company from what he calls “an ugly industrial building” into one of the first legal residential loft projects in Toronto. The conversion at 41 Shanly St. won the Ontario Renews Award in 1984.
At the time, Mr. Mitchell wanted to expand beyond designing single-family residences and duplexes but appropriate sites were hard to find.
“We were looking for buildings that had outlived their usefulness,” he says.
Since then, his design-build firm, Mitchell & Associates, has converted several old churches and factories into residential buildings. Projects include Hepbourne Hall in Dufferin Grove, the Glebe near Pape and Danforth, and Lowther Mews in the Annex.
For unit 208, Mr. Mitchell worked with owner Gabrielle Peacock long before construction was started in order to customize the 1,750-square-foot unit.
Because the building sits along an angled stretch of Kingston Road, Mr. Mitchell says, each unit varied in depth and size and therefore no two are identical.
“You’re pretty much custom-designing every suite.”
Mr. Mitchell prefers that process in any case because it gives owners an opportunity to have the space tailored to their lifestyles.
Ms. Peacock asked that each of the two bedrooms on the second floor have ensuite bathrooms. An upper-level family room has a sliding door to a terrace with a gas barbeque.
On the main floor, large expanses of wall and built-in shelves provide space for the owner’s art collection.
The dining and living areas have a gas fireplace and a large, south-facing window.
The kitchen, open to the dining area, has a breakfast bar, stainless steel appliances and cabinets of dark-stained wood.
A room beside the kitchen is currently used as a home office, but it could also be a den or an extra bedroom, says real estate agent Amy Polson of Royal LePage Estate Realty. There’s also a bathroom on the main floor.
The best feature
In Unit 208, a dramatic two-storey atrium in the living area has a 21-foot-high ceiling. Stairs lead to the second floor and the mezzanine family room and playroom.
“With that two-storey volume of space, you’re allowing the light from the upper floor to come back through the main floor,” says Mr. Mitchell.