Some condo developments seem to pop up in unexpected places. Once the cornerstone of many communities in Toronto, church buildings and church-owned properties have become increasingly targeted by developers. They often occupy large and desirable plots of land in the city that are easily accessible to the communities they serve. The drop in church attendance over the last few decades has made it lucrative for religious organizations to sell all or part of their properties. Bellefair Kew Beach Residences by Reserve Properties is one example of this trend.

Located at the corner of Queen Street East and Bellefair Avenue, Bellefair Kew Beach Residences is designed by RAW Design and is a five-storey, 23-unit complex on the site of the former Bellefair United Church. It's close to nearby amenities, like the shops of Queen, the beaches of Lake Ontario and Kew Gardens, and is a short trip from downtown on the 501 Queen streetcar. Developments of this scale fit in with the City's Avenue Studies, which identifies corridors such as Queen Street East as areas appropriate for mid-rise intensification.

Below are some images of the preparation for and demolition of the church structure for residential conversion.

Bellefair Kew Beach Residences, Toronto Condos, Reserve Properties, RAW DesignBellefair Kew Beach Residences, image by urbandreamer

Bellefair Kew Beach Residences, Toronto Condos, Reserve Properties, RAW DesignBellefair Kew Beach Residences, image by Jack Landau

Bellefair Kew Beach Residences, Toronto Condos, Reserve Properties, RAW DesignBellefair Kew Beach Residences, image by Jack Landau

Google StreetView image of the Bellefair United Church in its original state in 2009.

Bellefair Kew Beach Residences, Toronto Condos, Reserve Properties, RAW DesignBellefair Kew Beach Residences, image by Google StreetView

Construction is well underway in converting the old church building into residential space. The façades that front Queen and Bellefair are being preserved and incorporated into the new condo structure, in a nod to the property's heritage. The conversion of churches into residential space is similar to the trend of converting old warehouses and factories into living space. The repurposing of buildings that have outlived their original function allows the city to save all or parts of heritage sites and give new life to buildings that would otherwise have sat empty or been totally demolished.

This is what the finished Bellefair Kew Beach Residences will look like when construction is complete.

Bellefair Kew Beach Residences, Toronto Condos, Reserve Properties, RAW DesignBellefair Kew Beach Residences, image by Reserve Properties

There are other examples of churches and church property being converted into residential space in the city, with other applications and proposals in the works. Notable existing examples include the Glebe Lofts at 660 Pape Avenue and St George on Sheldrake at 65 Sheldrake Avenue. Some proposals in the works include conversion of the Bloor Street United Church at 300 Bloor Street West into a 38-storey condo tower and the St. Clements Lofts on Jones Avenue.