Mid-rise projects add contemporary flavour to historic west-end strip
TORONTO – In 1873, Toronto’s first-ever City Engineer – a British immigrant named John Howard – donated the land of his sprawling west-end estate to the City. Howard’s generous gift came with one condition: upon his death the donated land, and 45 remaining acres surrounding his residence, could only be used thereafter as a public park.
Nearly two centuries later, Howard’s modest home (known as “Colborne Lodge”) still stands near the south end of High Park, one of the City of Toronto’s vastest expanses of green space and the eastern gateway to the ever-changing residential neighbourhood of Bloor West Village.
Situated between Toronto’s Keele and Jane subway stations, it’s a charming neighbourhood that finds its anchor in a thriving commercial strip right along Bloor Street West. On either side, quiet, well-treed residential roads often take their name from the area’s earliest inhabitants – Durie Street, for example, honours the first commanding officer of the Queen’s Own Rifles.
Living in Bloor West Village and High Park
Bloor West Village’s many low-rise offerings were largely built between 1912 and 1923, and are reputed for their early-20th-century design touches such as oak accents, fireplaces, and spacious front porches. Unlike some denser downtown neighbourhoods, the area offers a good selection of three-bedroom homes – a family-friendly match for the nearby schools and parks featured below.
The streets extending outward from Bloor tend to be quiet, low-traffic areas with plenty of shade thanks to the many mature trees lining either side.
For those looking for a high- or mid-rise condominium home, Bloor Street Village and High Park were once neighbourhoods that presented few options, with a residential mix that mainly consisted of low-rise semi-detached homes and high-rise rental apartments.
In 2014, though, the neighbourhood has begun to transform and intensify, welcoming some of the city’s most exciting mid-rise condo developments to its valuable stretch of Bloor Street West. Here are a few of our favourites currently under development:
One and Two Old Mill
Bloor Street West & Old Mill Drive
Occupying a valuable corner spot just east of the Humber River, Tridel Developments’ One and Two Old Mill mid-rise condominium communities are being constructed at the former site of Toronto’s first industrial building, the King’s Mill. The two buildings offer 10 and 12 storeys, respectively, offering a natural choice for first-time buyers on the hunt for both convenience and character.
The High Park
1990 Bloor Street West
Closer to the Keele end of the neighbourhood, Daniels’ The High Park is well under construction on the north side of Bloor between Pacific Avenue and Northmount Road. This 11-storey community will feature “traditional cladding solutions, such as glass, brick and stone” – a tribute to the area’s historical character. In 2014, The High Park was the recipient of a Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) award for Best Model Suite.
Just off of Bloor, you’ll also find some completed condo communities that offer fantastic existing-home options for buyers. Monarch Group’s stylish and modern 20 Gothic features a 4,600-square-foot landscaped terrace, state-of-the-art fitness studio, and – most impressively – a quiet and convenient location just steps from the High Park TTC subway station.
One of Toronto’s most striking tributes to the classicist and art-deco architectural styles, Daniels’ nearby 70 High Park Avenue offers buyers the rare opportunity to live atop a designated heritage building. The 1928 church’s front façade has been carefully preserved and still looks out over High Park Avenue at ground level. Inside, 169 suites enjoy access to tastefully-designed amenities that include a theatre, party room and exercise room.
Schools, Parks, and Leisure
Bloor West Village and High Park are among the rare few downtown neighbourhoods offering excellent nearby school access. Within short walking or driving distance, you’ll find Runnymede Junior and Senior Public School, Swansea Public School, Annette Street Public School, and Saint Pius X Separate School. For families with teens, there are also a number of secondary schools nearby:
Ursula Franklin Academy
Operating in its current location since 1995, Ursula Franklin Academy is a small, publicly-funded secondary school with enrolment capped at 500. Admission is based on application, and students travel from all over the city to attend. The school’s “Enriched Wednesday program” provides a unique inter-grade opportunity for students to showcase their learning by implementing their own courses.
Ursula Franklin’s academic-enrolled grade nine math students outperformed those across the province on EQAO testing in 2012-13, with a remarkable 91 per cent of eligible students meeting or exceeding provincial standards. The school’s first-time-eligible Grade 10 students performed admirably on the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) the same year, with an astounding 98 per cent success rate – beating the province-wide pass rate of 81% by a huge margin.
Western Technical and Commercial School
Located just a stone’s throw to the northeast, the Western Technical and Commercial School has been in its current location for more than 80 years. Boasting state-of-the-art computer, classroom and technological facilities, Western Technical also offers Gifted and Enriched classes for incoming students.
One of Western Technical’s biggest draws is its Engineering Robotics Specialist High Skill Major program – a unique, application-only program that has produced a highly successful Robotics Team which competes yearly at the regional level.
Recreation, Shopping and Dining
The neighbourhood’s main outdoor attraction is obviously its eponymous park. One of the GTA’s largest preserved green spaces, High Park’s sprawling grounds stretch from Bloor Street all the way down to the Queensway. Facilities within the park include playgrounds, picnic areas, regularly-maintained athletic facilities, and even the High Park Zoo – a year-round family attraction with no admission fee.
Other nearby green spaces include Rennie Park – named after early resident William Rennie – which is situated just west of Grenadier Pond and features a wading pool, tennis courts, and artificial ice rink. Along the Humber River to the west, residents will find a variety of walking trails to enjoy in the preserved natural areas along the banks.
Along Bloor West Village’s main commercial strip, popular retailers like Mendocino, Chapters Indigo, and Brown’s Sports and Cycle join together regularly for popular community events like the Summer Sidewalk Sale and Earth Day celebrations.
This bustling stretch of Bloor Street is also a popular destination for both casual and upscale dining, with revered spots like Coffee Tree Roastery, VILLA Restaurant, and the Toronto Life-approved Queen’s Pasta Cafe regularly tantalizing the tastebuds of visitors from all over Greater Toronto. For more ambitious home-cooking gourmands, Max’s Market – located conveniently at the corner of Bloor and Durie Streets – is a renowned local provider of gourmet groceries.
Buying a Home in Bloor West Village or High Park
With its convenient TTC access, mature greenery, and rapidly developing mid-rise offerings, the Bloor Street strip from Keele to Jane is currently one of Toronto’s hottest neighbourhoods for residential real estate – especially for young families who can take advantage of the nearby parks and schools.
Whether you’re looking for a brand-new condo or an existing low-rise home with plenty of history and character, your best bet is to work with an experienced real estate sales representative, who knows the area well and can help you find a property that fits your needs. We recommend getting in touch with a member of the sales team at Living Realty Inc., Brokerage, who can help get you started by providing further neighbourhood information, and going over some of the properties currently listed for sale.
Check out our other Downtown Toronto Neighbourhood Profiles: