As we build to the Province’s intensification policies more development is occurring in existing GTA communities and more heritage buildings are being integrated into new developments.
The industry works closely with municipal heritage staff to follow preservation laws set out for heritage structures and at the same time works to integrate how the structure can become a key feature within the new development.
Under the Ontario Heritage Act, municipalities can designate buildings they deem are of “cultural heritage value or interest.” The property must meet one or more established criteria which relate to the building’s physical, historical and contextual value.
A successful heritage redevelopment can take many forms and relies on the collaboration and expertise of developers, consultants and contractors that understand the complexities of merging historic buildings into new designs. Whether the project will be an adaptive reuse or restoration are key considerations that a team will explore to determine how best to integrate a structure.
Adaptive reuse is the process of repurposing buildings of historic value that are no longer being used. Features are preserved and/or modified so that the building can be used for a different purpose. For example, an abandoned factory can become the main floor of a new condo tower.
Building restoration is when a structure of historic value is enhanced to recreate what it looked like when it was first constructed.
Hullmark Developments’ 60 Atlantic in the heart of Liberty Village is an example of an adaptive reuse project that transformed a turn-of-the-century warehouse into a new 43,000 square-foot mixed-use commercial development. Working with Quadrangle Architects, Hullmark restored the building and expanded it to include a glass addition connecting all levels and a sunken outdoor courtyard to accommodate a restaurant and patio area. Retail space was added at ground level and offices and studios are located on the upper floors.
The process of transforming the structure involved eliminating things such as partitions that were not part of the original design, stripping and restoring the original beige brick walls, adding grey bricks for contrast, enhancing the heavy timber beams, high ceilings, open floor plates and large windows.
A great example of a restoration in Vaughan is the old Carrville Post Office and General Store that has been brought back to life by the Remington Group. The 1845 structure whose exterior was restored to its original form now serves as the Sorelle and Co. gluten-free, vegan bakery in the centre of the village of Carrville.
Another adaptive reuse project underway is the historic Waterworks site at 505 Richmond Street West. It dates back to 1837 and was formerly a City of Toronto’s Water Works facility. MOD Developments and Woodcliffe Landmark Properties are transforming the massive building and industrial garage into a new horseshoe-shaped 13-storey residential and commercial development with a European-style food hall at its core. The project not only preserves the Art Deco façade along Richmond St., it will add 290 boutique condos, a rooftop garden and a new YMCA.
The garage’s long skylights will be restored and the bricked-up windows reopened creating a huge gallery where vendors and restaurants will offer the public foods from around the world.
MOD is also working on the Massey Tower project (pictured above) at 197 Yonge which will incorporate the restoration of the historically designated Canadian Bank of Commerce building. Once complete, the revitalization of the 1905-built bank will bring new life to a downtown landmark. It will be completely restored and will serve as the grandiose entrance to a new 60-storey mixed-used development designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects.