Past the confluence of Richmond and Adelaide—and the Don River—Eastern Avenue is one of Toronto's liminal spaces. Situated between Queen Street and Lake Shore Boulevard, the street shifts its way through the east end—before becoming Kingston Road past Coxwell—past an eclectically fine-grained and simultaneously awkwardly sprawling mix of residential, industrial, and commercial uses.
Just west of the TTC's Russell Carhouse, the south side of the street is still dominated by sprawling industrial sites, surface parking, and vacant land. On the north side of the street, however, the short block between Minto Street and Knox Avenue is filled in with a deceptively fine-grained collection of homes, offices, and retailers. It's an unusual context, and one that has given rise to a somewhat unusual project at 914 Eastern Avenue.
Developed and designed by Toronto's Cecconi Simone, a firm best known for its industry-leading interior designs, the project would introduce a new aesthetic—and three luxury homes—to the neighbourhood. Taking on a site currently occupied by a low-slung commercial building, the development would retain parts of the existing structure, re-imagining the property as a collection of private residences. "It would've probably been easier to demolish the existing building," Anna Simone explains, "but its bones make it worth saving," she adds, stressing that the generous proportions and deceptively high, open configurations, provide a springboard for unique living spaces.
On Eastern Avenue, the three townhouse frontages meet the street with double-height perforated metal screens above the brick-lined ground level. "These are going to be living walls," Elaine Cecconi explains, describing the plantings that will weave through the metal to create a green frontage.
On the other side of the screens, three private terraces are designed to foster an 'outdoor room' experience for residents. Sequestered from the bustle of street via the perforated screens, the terraces will let in natural light from above, as well as indirect sun from the south. Programmed for al fresco dining, the gardens are designed to enable a subtle transition from indoor space, translating some of the privacy and comfort of a living room outdoors.
Moving inside, expansive floor-to-ceiling windows are accentuated by the tall floor-plates, negotiating a subtle transition from the exterior. "The idea is for the outdoor spaces to sort of slide into the homes," says Simone, adding that the combination of ample indoor and outdoor light with the intimately programmed open-air space is meant to foster a sense of cohesion.
Planned as three-bedroom homes, the residences are accented by the central, double-height spaces that surround the stairs. Bringing in light from the skylights above, the quality of space—in significant part enabled by the tall walls of the existing structure—prompted Cecconi and Simone to make the stairs an architectural highlight. "We considered a lot of design approaches," Simone notes, with the designers eventually settling on a simple solution that nonetheless attempts to emphasize the vertical stair column's prominence.
On the second floor, the bedrooms are situated either side of a bridge that spans across the double-height space. Located on the north side of each suite, the master bedrooms all feature an expansive ensuite with a 'wet closet' that integrates clothing storage alongside the luxury bathroom, while retaining a sense of privacy. The bedroom also opens out to a second private terrace, which steps down towards the ground level, facilitating a long clerestory window to the kitchen below.
Another two bedrooms—each with full ensuites and walk-in or walk-through closets—are located on the south side of the second floors, along with a laundry room. Finally, vehicle access will be provided via the laneway on north side of the site, with two-car garages for each townhouse.
Targeting a Summer construction launch, the boutique project has now been in the works for over two years, navigating through the complexities of the City's planning process. "It's not a change in terms of density or height," Cecconi explains, "but it's still been a long process," one which may now be entering its final stages following a Site Plan Application (SPA) to the City of Toronto in March.
"People still see it as a sort of transitional area, but we really believe in its potential," Simone stresses, highlighting some of the nearby proposals now in the development pipeline. "We know it's also not for everyone," Cecconi adds, acknowledging that a design-forward luxury townhouse project on Eastern Avenue will likely cater to specific tastes. In a city where high-rise construction accounts for the lion's share of new housing supply, there's not much like it.
We will keep you updated as the project continues to move forward, and the future of Eastern Avenue continues to evolve. In the meantime, make sure to check out our associated dataBase file for more information about the project. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment on this page, or join the conversation in our Forum.