11 Woodlawn Ave. No. 4, Toronto
Asking Price: $2,195,000
Size: 2,046 square feet
Monthly maintenance Fee: $1,821.98
Property Taxes: $6,989.99 (2021)
Listing agent: Carole Lome, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., Johnston & Daniel Division
The back story
About seven years ago a real estate developer knocked on Lucy Fromowitz’s door on Keewatin Avenue to see if she and her husband would be willing to sell their home of more than 25 years. “No, we plan to die here,” she said her husband replied. “Then they put a number down and he said, ‘I could die elsewhere.’”
Such is the way in growing cities, and the couple was launched into a house-hunt. It had been decades since they had last bought a home in Toronto. They were attracted to Summerhill, the high-end retail area known affectionately as the Five Thieves, and all the charms of life south of St. Clair. “The houses we would look at, we found they were exceptionally narrow; these 14- or 15-foot lots that often had no parking. And it was a bit overwhelming having come from a larger home,” she said.
After yet another disappointing showing, she spotted an “Open House” sign and pulled over to look at the converted church at 11 Woodlawn Ave. She wasn’t looking for a condominium, but right away there were things that made this one stand out.
“It presented more like the kind of home we were comfortable with … it had a front-door entrance from the street, so we weren’t having to deal with elevators,” and unlike her old home there was indoor parking – so no more shovelling snow. Inside, it was full of light, but also quiet and generously proportioned compared to the row houses they’d been looking at. There were only six units in the building, and they didn’t come on the market that often.
The building had been converted to residential use in 1990, and after 30 years, there were some mechanical upgrades that needed doing. When Ms. Fromowitz moved in she tore out and upgraded the builder-original bathroom in the primary ensuite. Then, in recent years “pretty much a full renovation” kicked off, starting in the kitchen, the other bathrooms and included replacing some of the windows.
The unit is around the corner of the building. A pathway runs along the lane, separated by a fence; No. 4 is the last door on the right.
The entrance opens into a large space that’s currently set up as a formal dining room, but has enough connection to the rest of the fairly open main level it could be configured as a living room or even an office. Light-blond wide-plank hardwood covers the floor throughout the two-level apartment but there are no windows in this front area, divided as it is from the kitchen and living room by a large structural pillar and an HVAC bulkhead.
On the left is a two-piece powder room (with a very large window facing the laneway) and between the bathroom and the stairs leading upstairs is a utility closet with an electrical panel with a door to the furnace (also accessible from the living room).
Straight ahead are some large windows looking onto the rear deck, and as you step into this space the living room is on the left and the kitchen is on the right. One thing you’ll notice with the windows in the original structure is how deep the wells are, thanks to that sturdy church construction.
The kitchen is anchored by an island with bar seating and sink (countertop slab of Calcutta granite flows over the side in the style that’s become quite popular on renovation shows). Walking past a pantry wall with wall-mounted ovens takes you to the induction range on top of a deep counter with a geometric tile backsplash with pot-filler faucet. The fridge is in the back corner next to the frosted glass door to the solarium (which also houses the laundry) that’s basically a greenhouse with glass walls and ceiling.
“We have a small table and chairs and we have our coffee there every morning … the sun just pours in,” Ms. Fromowitz said. The deck is wrapped around this sun room, just below it is the entrance to the parking garage at the rear of the building.
Back inside, the living room has a gas fireplace on the exterior wall and the room soars upward to the second level and a ceiling with five narrow skylights cut into it pours light into the space. The stairs to the second level are also open to this room. The stairs, and the second level, is another feature that convinced Ms. Fromowitz she could downsize to a condo. “I’ve been married for 36 years, and a set of stairs can make for a good marriage,” she says, arguing the flexibility to put a little distance between your partner can be helpful whether you’re entertaining colleagues, watching different movies or just need some quiet time with a book.
From the second level landing the two bedrooms branch off left and right. On the right is the guest bedroom which is about 14 by 10 feet with a double closet and a window that looks into the laneway. The three-piece ensuite (with large glass-walled shower) also has a surprisingly large window in need of a little privacy screening.
The primary bedroom is almost 20 by 12 feet, with a bank of windows with the same view as the deck. A walk-in closet at the back is just past the updated ensuite with floor-to ceiling marble tile, stand-alone tub and huge walk-in shower. There’s room for a double vanity, but the couple opted for an elegant single with chrome fittings (there’s towel and toiletries storage in a built-in cabinet behind the door).
What she’ll miss most
The couple wanted this neighbourhood when they moved, and now they’re so woven into it it’s hard to imagine leaving the area and their neighbours behind.
“That funny laneway entrance into our units means you meet each other on that, and you stop and chat and it’s a really strong community. We even do some of the [common area] gardening together,” Ms. Fromowitz said.
“You walk around the corner you’re on Yonge Street within one block, I’ve got my physiotherapist, hair salon, my optometrist. From Woodlawn, you’re a couple blocks from that huge park system [the Yellow Creek ravine and Park Drive Reservation Lands that connects to the Don Valley’s Beltline trail], and you can walk all the way to Brickworks. It’s a neighbourhood you don’t need a car in.”
The push to leave it behind is another offer she can’t refuse: retirement. Ms. Fromowitz’s work as vice-provost, students at York University has meant she’s rarely had more than two weeks at a time to travel, and the couple has hopes to take off and explore with an even lighter footprint at home.
“I went through cancer a couple years ago, and it makes you rethink the type of life you want,” she said. “I have worked non-stop for 42 years and I have this notion of living that care-free life and just enjoy things … Worst case scenario, I find out ‘care-free’ is an illusion.”
Your house is your most valuable asset. We have a weekly Real Estate newsletter to help you stay on top of news on the housing market, mortgages, the latest closings and more. Sign up today.