The evolving Canary District development will push growth in the southeastern downtown core.
Prize-winning performances by Canadian athletes at the 2015 Pan AM/Parapan Am Games will long be a source of national pride and a cause for civic celebration.
Another long-term win is the way in which the Games hastened the rise of one of Toronto’s newest—and most liveable, walkable, sustainable — neighbourhoods.
The Canary District — roughly bordered by the Distillery and Entertainment Districts, and the Don River — was the site of the temporary Athlete’s Village, which was home to some 10,000 participants during the Games.
If all goes according to schedule, the Gold Leed-certified development will comprise 800 condos — a mix of market-geared, affordable and fully accessible units—by the end of the year, with move-in starting in 2016.
“. . .SOUTHEAST DOWNTOWN HAS BEEN A RISING STAR FOR A WHILE. . .” — STEPHAN WEISHAUPT, OWNER OF THE DESIGN STUDIO AVENUE ROAD
Other local landmarks include a shiny new YMCA, a 500-bed student residence for the George Brown College Waterfront Campus, and an Aboriginal community health centre operated by Anishnawbe Health Toronto.
Restaurants, fitness studios and other services will be close by at an expansive retail promenade on Front Street East.
Nearby, the 18-acre Corktown Common park is as useful as it is handsome, with lots of flora and fauna, playgrounds, a splash pad, athletic field and open areas for games and get-togethers. Conceived by Michael Van Valkenburgh, the engineered landscape helps mitigate flooding from the Don River, making surrounding land more useable.
Tucked under the Eastern Avenue, Richmond and Adelaide Street overpasses, Underpass Park is a hidden urban gem, with Paul Raff’s Mirage — an art installation of 57 reflective polished, stainless steel panels suspended from the underside of the overpass. There’s also a playground, basketball half-courts, a skate park and a flexible open space for community events.
While the Games have hastened growth, southeast downtown has been a rising star for a while, says Stephan Weishaupt, owner of the design studio Avenue Road. He originally opened on nearby Booth Avenue in 2007 before moving to more spacious quarters at 415 Eastern Avenue in 2010.
“It’s close to some of the other design studios on King East, there are lots of architects nearby and it’s very accessible either from downtown or the Don Valley Parkway,” says Weishaupt.
At one point, the Yabu Pushelberg-designed building housed a printing operation. In order to handle the weight of the printing presses, the basement was filled with concrete, which had to be chipped out.
Hauling away a mountain of rock was, however, worth it. Above an artfully arranged ground floor sit two upper levels. Running the length of their outer walls, framing a light-filled open rectangle, are glass panels inset with display cases.
Museum-like, it’s filled with beautiful furniture, textiles and objets—shown here top left is a gorgeous chair of salvaged wood and silky leather by Brazilian designer Carlos Motta. There is a stunning light fixture made with swirling wires of antique brass by Toronto-based Lisa Santana and Kelvin Goddard of Unit 5, a sleek bench of black ebonized wood and cane designed by Oscar Niemeyer, and finely detailed porcelain animals from Nymphenburg, the German company that’s been around for over 250 years.
If all that walking and shopping makes you peckish, drop by Tabule at 810 Queen Street East for a fresh, flavourful take on Middle Eastern cuisine. By next summer, the restaurant will open another location in the evolving Canary District. It will have the same great food, but the vibe will be more casual, with lots of salads and wraps, available for eat-in or takeout.