In early May, Oben Flats Leslieville—a new development on Queen Street East—received Community Council approval, moving the project one step closer to breaking ground. This is one of four projects that its developer, also named Oben Flats, is building in Toronto in its goal of bringing a line of chic boutique rental buildings to the city's residential market.

Oben Flats, Superkül, Leslieville, Queen Street East, Toronto Rendering of Oben Flats on Queen Street East, image courtesy of Superkül

The Queen Street East/Leslieville location, will begin construction this year and will take about 14 months to complete. Currently under review by the City for a Zoning by-law Amendment, this six storey mixed-use building in Toronto’s East-end will accommodate forty eight residential rental units ranging from 465-1,200 sq ft and an at-grade retail space. Parking is accessed off a rear lane, and is serviced by a hydraulic parking stacker system. Oben Flats expects occupancy here in Fall 2015.

The proposed building is sensitive to its context while achieving an economically feasible density. The structure’s four-storey datum is articulated in response to the neighbouring buildings along Queen Street East, and transitions to three-stories at its rear in response to the adjacent residential structures. Above these established levels the building steps back, allowing for generous roof terraces, natural light and views toward Lake Ontario. To further respond to its Toronto street context, the building is clad in two tones of brick and articulated with large slender openings.

The concept for these buildings first emerged in German cities in 2007 with a series of luxury rentals in Cologne and Dusseldorf by the German developer BZV GmbH. The rent-instead-of-buy mentality is not uncommon in Germany, so the developer made a name for themselves, not in the genre of building they were offering, but for its quality. BZV developed contemporary buildings with units that appealed not only to the short term resident, but to the aesthetically aware one as well.

In 2010 the company decided to expand into Toronto. This brought about a re-branding campaign which included taking on the name Oben Flats, the first part of which means "above" in German. This newly settled developer hopes to define itself by the quality of its furnishings and finishes along with their modern and European-inspired style. To accomplish this, Oben Flats have chosen Superkül Architect to exclusively design the interiors and exteriors of all their buildings.

Equally important to Oben is placing Torontonians in the most accessible and vibrant parts of their city. Currently, Oben has four Toronto projects, located in Leslieville, Little Italy, St. Clair West and the Castlefield Design District, all of which are in pedestrian-friendly and easily accessible areas. Each location is close to either public transit or an auto-share hub like Zipcar.

Oben Flats, Superkül, Little Italy, Harbord, TorontoRendering of Oben Flats on Harbord Street, image courtesy of Superkül

The smaller Little Italy project on Harbord Street will be the first to be completed. This location offers just six townhomes, each with a fourth floor roof terrace, making it a rather exclusive project on the attractive street known for its restaurants, bakery, and eclectic shops. Construction here is planned to commence this summer, and the first residents should be in by the end of the year.

Oben Flats, Superkül, Vaughan Road, TorontoRendering of Oben Flats on Vaughan Road, image courtesy of Superkül

Largest of the first four projects is Oben Flats St. Clair West project at 109 Vaughan Road is in the final stages of its site plan process and construction is anticipated here starting later this summer. This 51-unit building will rise 10 storeys, and is planned to be completed late in 2015.

The last project of the first four at 2280 Eglinton Avenue West, and is being named after the Castlefield Design District just to its north. The 29-unit building is currently getting its zoning approved and will not likely start construction until 2015.

Oben Flats, Superkül, Eglinton, Castlefield Design District, Harbord, TorontoRendering of Oben Flats on Englinton Ave, image courtesy of Superkül

On Oben Flat's website the company vaunts the benefits of rental living: no condo fees, no mortgage, and no long-term commitment. The developer also aims to use its landlord status to provide more efficient service to its residents by removing the cumbersome bureaucracy that sometimes comes with a condo board of directors. Organizing in-house art exhibits and parties is another perk that Oben Flats wants to provide to its community of renters as well. 

As these four locations develop we will keep you updated. In the meantime, click on any of the dataBase files, linked below, for more information and more renderings. You can let us know what you think of Oben Flats and its coming additions to Toronto by joining the conversation in the associated Forum threads, or by adding your comment in the space provided on this page.