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51 LADY BANK RD., UNIT 501, TORONTO

Asking price: $649,900

Taxes: Not yet assessed

Unit size: Approximately 1,300 sq. ft. with 210 sq. ft. on the balcony

Maintenance fee: $711.29

Agent: Paul Johnston, Salesperson, Right at Home Realty Inc. Broker

Photo by Scott Norsworthy
Photo by Scott Noseworthy

When most people think of the Queensway – a busy boulevard in Etobicoke – they don’t think of modern architecture.

That will change if Sayf Hassan has anything to do with it.

Mr. Hassan is president of Symmetry Developments, the group behind a new mid-rise building located at the corner of Lady Bank Road and the Queensway. The six-storey structure’s design is simple, yet striking: a minimalist core wrapped in a steel “dress.”

“With one material, you can apply a sense of sculpture and movement to the building,” Mr. Hassan said. “The idea was to have this [architectural] moment and insert it into the fabric of the Queensway.”

The back story

When Mr. Hassan came across the 50-by-100-foot lot about six years ago, it was home to a derelict, three-storey detached house.

“It was empty – except for some raccoons. And we wanted to reimagine it,” he said.

He liked that it was a corner lot on a busy street but its size posed a challenge: How could he build a multilevel residential building when the space was too tight for an underground parking lot?

The answer: stackers.

Stackers are basically car elevators. You drive onto a metal platform, get out, hit a button and it raises your car into the air. In doing so, it reveals another such platform for an additional parking space. They are fairly common space savers in dense cities, such as New York.

“Stackers are what allowed this development to happen,” Mr. Hassan said.

Once he figured out how to create the necessary parking, Stephen Teeple, from Teeple Architects, was hired to design the building.

“[Stephen’s] work is very sculptural. He likes to use a lot of different metals to build in different colours,” said Mr. Hassan. “He thinks about how a building meets a street. What it looks like when you come across it after turning a corner.”

The idea of curb appeal is often associated with street single-family homes, but it’s less common for multiunit dwellings. But this is what makes the building distinctive, said real estate agent Paul Johnston.

“One of the fears of mid-rise building is that everyone is going to follow the envelope in terms of what you’re permitted to build, instead of trying to push it,” Mr. Johnston said.

“Very few people think about how you can be creative within the envelope.”

And the creativity goes beyond the exterior’s metal sheath. The building also has a prominent 45-degree angle along its backside, giving it a geometric feel.

Punctuating the corrugated zinc cladding are windows, which create a bunching effect reminiscent of a beehive.

That became the inspiration for the building’s name: Hive Lofts.

The unit

There are 18 units in Hive Lofts and unit 501 is the only one left for purchase. It’s also the biggest.

“Every unit is different and this one was imagined as more of a family-sized unit,” Mr. Hassan said. “There are only three units on this floor and on the floor above you’ve only got two. So it’s hugely private.”

The layout is such that the two bedrooms lie on opposite ends of the unit, providing some privacy for occupants.

“A lot of people complain that the bedrooms are beside each in a two-bedroom unit. And that’s a very common design but it’s not what most purchasers are looking for,” Mr. Johnston said. “You can really only accomplish that when it’s a corner suite like this one.”

Each bedroom suite also features its own bathroom and a walk-in closet. And there are two laundry rooms in the loft.

“It’s for families or people who are cohabiting, like a mother and her older son or good friends, who decide that they want to purchase a larger two bedroom space but want their own independence,” Mr. Johnston said. “So they share a communal living in the kitchen, living and dining room but they still have their own space.”

Aside from the gracious living quarters, the unit also features a den large enough to be an office. It has a wall that separates it from the open-concept kitchen, living and dining room areas.

But Mr. Hassan’s favourite space is around the 10-foot-long kitchen island.

“The kitchen island is meant to an object in the space, not just a workstation. It’s meant to be a focal point,” he said. “This [communal living space] is your showstopper room.”

Especially since it faces a wall of windows that are flooded with south sunlight all year along.

In that regard, this unit is the antithesis to long, narrow, “bowling alley” apartment found in so many older mid-rise buildings in Toronto. And unit 501 also boasts a lot of storage in the kitchen.

“You could be a heck of a chef in here because you have ample storage stuff and an inordinate amount of counter space,” Mr. Johnston said.

But Mr. Johnston’s favourite feature is the glimpse of the building steel coat that you can see from the living space and from the study.

“I like the fact that you can see the robe of the building through here,” he said pointing out a west-facing window. “You don’t often get to experience the exterior of a building from an interior but this unit allows for a brief moment for you to appreciate the architecture.”

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