People hunting for a home in Toronto’s real estate market these days have just four building types to choose from. The most popular one, of course, is the house, either stand-alone or semi-detached. Another is the single-storey apartment. A third is the townhouse, situated at the bottom of an apartment block or dropped into a row of similar structures.
The fourth type, which is far less common than the other three, is a hybrid of townhouse and apartment. It’s a wonder that developers don’t build more units of this attractive sort. Multilevel suites stacked atop one another offer the best of two worlds of housing: the clear distinction between sociable, common downstairs space and private upstairs areas provided by a two-storey townhome, and a tower apartment’s efficiency, compactness and sense of security.
If you would like to try making such digs into a home, and would like to do so near Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighbourhood, you may want to check out the four-level complex that Kenneth Zuckerman, president of Zinc Developments, plans to put up at 35 Wabash Avenue.
Crafted by Toronto’s RAW Design, with interiors by DesignAgency, this project will feature 27 two-storey units (with rooftop decks) stacked over 27 townhouses that open fore and aft at grade. Corridors will give access to the suites at the first and third levels. (The elevator stops at these floors, and in the parking garage below ground.) There are no hallways on floors two and four of the building, so the width of the unit’s upper storey can be upward of 19 feet – wider by far than many a Hogtown house of conventional size and layout.
But, in fact, most things about 35 Wabash are ample. In addition to the two-level suites, the complex will contain six flats that measure from 600 to 1,000 square feet and cost $600,000 and up. The two-storey homes range in size from around 1,000 square feet to more than 1,600 square feet, and in price from the $600,000s to $1.2-million. The area of open space (backyards, balconies, roof decks), Mr. Zuckerman says, will be up to 1,000 square feet per suite.
To give you an idea of what to expect in stacked units at the large end, here are some facts about one that comes in at 1,640 square feet. The open-plan entry level, on the third floor, is more than 17 feet wide and roughly 36 feet from front to back. There is a powder room just inside the front door.
Upstairs, a full washroom serves two bedrooms, while the master has a spacious en suite. The outside area is 1,000 square feet. (The average unit is 18 feet wide, while a few are 12 feet.)
The developer said he expects his clientele will be a mix of “young families and empty nesters, who don’t want to go to condo towers.” Here’s hoping 35 Wabash attracts many of the former. Whatever else one can say about this project, it adds stock to the downtown inventory of housing suitable for starting a family – and that’s a good thing indeed.
If this finished building lives up to its renderings and floor plans, young and affluent professional couples will find convenient, well-appointed, two- and three-bedroom places to live in after their graduation from little one-bedroom apartments in the core.
They will be people who appreciate high-density dwelling, but who also want parks and shady streets and good shopping nearby. They will probably bring children into the world, and so inject fresh energy and care into the multigenerational Roncesvalles community. That is, to my mind, a best-case scenario.
The exterior promises to be clean-lined, modern and artistically unremarkable. While not every condo project needs to be a show-stopper, each should add something to the streetscape. Mr. Zuckerman asked RAW to come up with a design that responds to the “industrial heritage” of its immediate environment, something that “celebrates the area.” The result doesn’t really respond to or celebrate anything. It is neither plain and gruff, as with the little prop-shop and antique radiator outlet next door. nor sentimental, as with the rows of terrace housing on its east side. And it doesn’t transcend both west and east by making a fresh, punchy statement all its own.
But never mind. What’s interesting about 35 Wabash is not the wrapper. It’s the hybrid spatial arrangements within.