Southwest Scarborough's Birch Cliff neighbourhood is about to welcome three blocks of modern condominium townhomes designed by the bold Winnipeg-based 5468796 Architecture. Developed by Symmetry DevelopmentsFortress Real Developments and Engine Developments, The Tree House will bring 39 units, each with a balcony, terrace, backyard or patio, to a triangular-shaped lot at Gerrard Street and Clonmore Drive. 

Block A will front onto Gerrard Street, image courtesy of Symmetry DevelopmentsBlock A will front onto Gerrard Street, image courtesy of Symmetry Developments

Birch Cliff is a well-established, predominantly residential neighbourhood which roughly borders Lake Ontario to the south, Victoria Park to the west, the CN rail line to the north, and Kennedy Avenue to the east. The 1895 relocation of the Toronto Hunt Club spurred development in an area which was still largely rural. The natural setting of the neighbourhood, with the Scarborough Bluffs located nearby, acted as the perfect spot for summer cottages. Birch trees lined the top of the Bluffs, inspiring the name 'Birch Cliff', which one particular cottager attached to his property. The name was quickly adopted by the community, including the local post office which stood at the corner of Kingston Road and Birchmount Avenue.

Boundaries of Birch Cliff, image retrieved from Google MapsBoundaries of Birch Cliff, image retrieved from Google Maps

Development continued in the 1920's, earning Birch Cliff the unofficial status of a 'Streetcar Suburb'. The Kingston Road streetcar route helped the arterial became a popular shopping district. Post-war development spread east of Birch Cliff, turning Kingston Road into a major vehicular thoroughfare, which ended streetcar service east of Victoria Park. In addition to Victoria Park subway station on the Bloor-Danforth line, the neighbourhood is still served by numerous surface transit routes, including the 12 Kingston Road, 69 Warden South and 135 Gerrard buses. The Toronto Hunt Club, still operational today, has since swapped fox hunting and equestrian events for golfing, making itself known as one of the premier private golf courses in the city. 

The Toronto Hunt Club, image retrieved from Google MapsThe Toronto Hunt Club, image retrieved from Google Maps

Birch Cliff's proximity to the Beaches offers some unique shopping experiences along Queen Street East, but the neighbourhood itself is also well served by shops, schools and parks. "It has more in common with a Toronto neighbourhood than your typical Scarborough neighbourhood which is more suburban," said Sayf Hassan, founder of Symmetry Developments. "A lot of the amenities reflect a more urban environment. There are a number of independent stores and restaurants on the Danforth and Kingston Road. It's sandwiched between those two vibrant avenues." 

The Scarborough Bluffs, image retrieved from Google MapsThe Scarborough Bluffs, image retrieved from Google Maps

"This particular location within the Birch Cliff neighbourhood is very residential," said Hassan. "It's not a mixed-use vibe here and that's good when it comes to low-rise. For condos you need more of a mixed use environment. I think for low-rise, particularly stacks, families prefer to have a more residential context in the immediate vicinity, which is what this is. Very close by you have grocery stores, parks, schools, daycare. The immediate context is quite family friendly."

Freshco and Loblaws are both within walking distance, image by Apple MapsFreshco and Loblaws are both within walking distance, image retrieved from Apple Maps

The Tree House will be located within walking distance of several grocery chains, including Freshco and Loblaws. Birch Cliff Public School, Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute, Birch Cliff Heights Public School, Neil McNeil High School and Blantyre Public School are all located within its boundaries. "This section of Birch Cliff, particularly Gerrard, because of the way it's been planned, is not particularly busy," said Hassan. "That's why we opted to convert an industrial part of land in a residential zoned neighbourhood. That's why we targeted it, because the context will always remain low-rise." 

Closer look at The Tree House site, image retrieved from Google MapsCloser look at The Tree House site, image retrieved from Google Maps

The Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre and Scarborough Gardens Arena provides the recreational options that families are often seeking, especially in the cold winter months. Birch Cliff residents can also brag about an architectural landmark in its quarters. The R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, aptly nicknamed 'The Palace of Purification', is an art deco marvel situated atop a hill overlooking Lake Ontario. 

R.C. Harris Treatment Plant in southwest Birch Cliff, image by Marcus MitanisThe R.C. Harris Treatment Plant is located in southwest Birch Cliff, image by Marcus Mitanis

Formerly occupied by light industry, The Tree House takes advantage of its triangular lot by proposing three staggered residential blocks. Greenery is a major element of the project, which proposes one private and one more public green space separating the buildings. "The project is meant to be a neighbourhood within itself," said Hassan. "We have the green spaces dividing each block. Stacks are usually very isolating in their built form, so we decided to have a more communal vibe within the project itself. In the greater context, there's a definite community feeling within Birch Cliff. I always wanted to develop a bold urban project in a family friendly neighbourhood."

Block A and B will be separated by green space, image by Symmetry DevelopmentsBlock A and B will be separated by green space, image courtesy of Symmetry Developments

Starting in the $460,000s, the dkstudio-designed units occupy either two or three storeys and range in size from a two bedroom 935 square foot suite to a 1,325 square foot three bedroom space. The interiors are designed to mimic the name of the project by using a variety of natural materials not typically found in most residential developments, including plywood sheets, walnut cabinets and stone tiles. 

Block C will be located at the rear of the site, image by Symmetry DevelopmentsBlock C will be located at the rear of the site, image courtesy of Symmetry Developments

"This is an opportunity for people to take root in a neighbourhood that is excellent and getting better daily," said Hassan. "Whatever demographic you may be in, if you want to establish yourself in a neighbourhood that is on its way up, and lovely enough on its own currently, this is a good place to start. Our idea was to provide that springboard for people to move on. These units are large, but if somebody was thinking ten years down the line with three or four kids, this is a good starting point."

The Tree House presentation centre, image by Craig WhiteThe Tree House presentation centre, image by Craig White

For more information about The Tree House, check out the dataBase file linked below. To get involved in the discussion, visit the associated Forum thread or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of the page.