314 PALMERSTON BLVD., TORONTO
Asking price: $4.45-million
Taxes: Not yet assessed
Lot size: 25-foot frontage
Agent: Jimmy Molloy (Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.)
The back story
The College Street Baptist Church at the corner of College Street and Palmerston Boulevard was a late-Victorian landmark that had fallen into disrepair when real estate developer Matthew Kosoy decided to buy the building in 2007.
"It was architecturally a very beautiful church but it kept trading hands," says real estate agent Jimmy Molloy of Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.
The church was built in Romanesque Revival style by notable Toronto architects Langley and Burke, according to the research that helped to have it protected under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2009.
At first, Mr. Kosoy had planned to turn the property into several condominium units. But a consultation with builder Joe Brennan of J.F. Brennan Design/Build Inc. convinced him that the men should collaborate on creating four freehold townhouses.
Mr. Brennan purchased the largest – a 10,000-square-foot unit that includes the church's bell tower – for himself.
His company has spent five years restoring the damage done by fire and vandalism to the brick, stone, wood and decorative terra cotta detailing of the exterior.
"It protected the original envelope of the building, which is so iconic Toronto," says Mr. Molloy of the conservation. "It was an immense project just to get to construction."
Behind each door, the structure was hollowed out and the owners could then create their own custom-built house.
"Everyone had a different vision," says Mr. Molloy.
Mr. Kosoy's nearly 6,000-square-foot unit is currently for sale. It's at the north of the property in the portion that used to be the parish hall.
The front door and gated garden face Palmerston, where stone gates mark the entrance to the wide boulevard.
The house today
Mr. Kosoy hired New York-based architect Anthony Fieldman of RAFT and Toronto-based Mazen el-Abdallah of Mazen Studio to design the house.
Mr. Kosoy's wife, Ali Yaphe, also works in the design business as an importer of fabrics and carpets.
The main floor – with nearly 14-foot ceilings – has a large open kitchen, dining room and living room with walk-outs to a terrace.
The kitchen has built-in appliances, a large island and a built-in sound system.
The living room has a floor-to-ceiling fireplace built of textured granite.
The stairwell, which climbs through the centre of the house, has its own cooling system and a large skylight.
"It's not really a staircase – it's more of a gallery space," says Mr. Molloy. "It brings all this light through the whole house."
Upstairs, a large master bedroom at the rear of the house has an ensuite bathroom with a freestanding soaker tub and a separate open-air shower. There's also a large dressing room.
The second bedroom also has an ensuite bath.
On the third floor, an open-concept family room gives kids a place to play. That level also provides two more bedrooms – each with ensuite bathrooms.
The large rooftop terrace faces the sunset to the west and provides views over the city, while a morning deck faces east.
An elevator runs from the parking garage below ground all the way to the top with stops on each floor, including the rooftop terrace.
Owners gain access to their private underground parking garages via an elevator in the laneway outside.
"Nobody knows who lives here because you never get out of your car," says Mr. Kosoy.
The loft-style houses in the converted church are designed to appeal to owners who want a very large and modern house, but in an edgy neighbourhood, says Mr. Molloy.
"People want to live downtown," says Mr. Molloy of those moving from more staid neighbourhoods such as Rosedale and Forest Hill. He points to Mr. Brennan as an example.
"They want to have the urban lifestyle but they want to have control of their space and the volume of space."
Mr. Kosoy points to the proximity of the Art Gallery of Ontario and popular bars and restaurants on College and Dundas streets.
Mr. Molloy says the public schools in the area have climbed in the rankings as parents increasingly become involved.
"Developments like this show the maturity of the neighbourhood."