Once popular with artists and creative types, loft-style buildings are now coveted residential dwellings, with downtowners scouring the market to find Toronto lofts for sale.
Toronto has a rich industrial history, with distilleries, meat packing facilities and other manufacturers occupying what today have become residential loft apartments. These desirable living spaces are found throughout the downtown, where factories made of brick with exposed beams housed hundreds of workers at the turn of the last century.
Neighbourhoods like Leslieville, the Junction, the Fashion District and Corktown retain this industrial feel. In fact, the Distillery District is home to the largest collections of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America thanks to the Gooderham and Worts distillery, which was the world’s largest whiskey factory in the late 1800s. Today, tourists flock to this neighbourhood, and it’s home to some fabulous residential units. It’s clear that this industrial style still holds some appeal.
In today’s real estate market, however, the word loft is thrown around quite a bit in reference to modern units that don’t fit the image of an industrial-style loft. So much so, several property hunters may be left scratching their heads asking “what exactly is a loft?”
While the term has been used with increased flexibility, there are two general loft types: hard and soft.
We cover the differences between a hard loft and soft loft below. We’ve also done a quick rundown of the top loft buildings in Toronto.
What is a hard loft?
A hard loft refers to a former industrial space that has been converted into a residence, yet, still retains much of its original industrial eccentricity.
Defined by character, the features and finishes that make up an authentic hard loft often trace back several decades to when the building first functioned as a factory or warehouse. Exposed brick and pipelines, factory windows, and high ceilings are all synonymous with hard lofts.
What is a soft loft?
Because of the popularity of loft spaces, many developers have chosen to mimic loft designs in their structure’s finishes.
Consequently, a soft loft can be described as a spin on the conventional modern condominium that offers spacious living quarters with high ceilings, flowing open concept designs and floor-to-ceiling windows. Used exclusively to refer to lofts in newly built and pre-construction condos, soft lofts capture several qualities of a hard loft but are not born from former industrial spaces.
While many soft lofts do feature exposed brick, exposed beams and other load-bearing structures like their hard loft counterparts, the industrial appearance is aesthetic and only part of a design concept. In essence, soft lofts are units in new condos that mimic some qualities of hard lofts.
Top 10 Toronto Hard Lofts
1.) Candy Factory Lofts
- Address: 993 Queen Street West
Nestled in one of Toronto’s trendiest neighbourhoods and situated just a stone’s throw away from the 14.6-hectare Trinity Bellwoods Park, The Candy Factory Lofts is arguably the city’s most famous hard loft residence.
Built circa 1907, the building complex later served as a factory for the Ce De Candy Company (the makers of Smarties) in the 1960’s prior to its conversion by Metro Ontario Group into a full-fledged residence. The intimate six-storey building now features a total of 121 units and boasts a host of amenities including a 24-hour concierge, party room and fitness facilities.
2.) Toy Factory Lofts
- Address: 43 Hanna Avenue
This landmark Liberty Village property was built in 1912. The property signalled a shift in the gentrification of the area, and was developed into a condo in early 2004. Today, it’s a coveted address, with high ceilings and exposed brick, not to mention a desirable location.
3.) Broadview Lofts
- Address: 68 Broadview Avenue
Located in South Riverdale, just outside of Leslieville, the Broadview Lofts was once a Rexall drug warehouse prior to being converted by the Sorbara Development Group into a residence. First built in 1914, the fully-renovated building now consists of 154 loft units.
An undisputed hard loft, this particular unit (pictured above) offers 1,000 square feet of open concept space complete with polished concrete floors, sandblasted brick walls, wood columns and expansive warehouse windows that allow for plenty of natural light. The lofts also come with upgraded features, including a Bosch dishwasher, stainless steel fridge as well as a full-sized Samsung washer and dryer.
4.) The Merchandise Lofts
- Address: 155 Dalhousie Street
Formerly a massive Sears merchandise warehouse, the newly converted Merchandise Lofts stretches an entire block in Toronto’s Moss Park neighbourhood. With towering 12-foot ceilings, concrete columns and polished-wood floors, these expansive lofts can double as both a residence and office space.
Merchandise Lofts comes with a plethora of top-notch amenities from an indoor pool to a full-sized gym, rooftop terrace and party room with views overlooking the city’s skyline.
5.) The Brock Lofts
- Address: 27 Brock Avenue
A converted warehouse, Brock Lofts is located in Parkdale and is bound between Queen Street West and Dufferin Street. With unobstructed open-concept floorplans, towering ceilings and exposed brick, units at the Brock fit the bill as authentic hard lofts.
6.) Imperial Lofts
- Address: 90 Sherbourne Street
Just steps to multiple TTC streetcars and a leisurely stroll from St. Lawrence Market, Imperial Lofts occupies a coveted address in Toronto’s downtown east. Previously an optical warehouse, the residence has maintained its stunning 1930’s art-deco design.
7.) Chocolate Co Lofts
- Address: 994 Queen Street West
Between its unbeatable location (Queen West boutiques and the 14.6-hectare Trinity Bellwoods Park is moments from the front door) and genuine loft features, it’s easy to see why units at Chocolate Co Lofts don’t last on the market for long. Built in 1912, and converted in 2004 by Plazacorp Developments, the former Patterson Candy Co. plant now features a mix of hard loft units, complete with 12-foot ceilings and factory-style windows, as well as an addition of newer soft loft units.
8.) Tip Top Lofts
- Address: 637 Lakeshore Boulevard West
Tip Top Tailors is perhaps Toronto’s best-known loft residence. Built in 1929 to house the headquarters for the menswear brand of the same name, the heritage building was converted to a loft condominium development in 2002. What makes this development noteworthy is its combination of soft and hard loft space. The old manufacturing building, with its soaring 11-foot ceilings, was converted into living space, and an addition in the form of a soft loft was built to create more living space.
9.) Feather Factory Lofts
- Address: 2154 Dundas Street West
This former down duvet manufacturer houses 44 units and is within walking distance of some of the city’s trendiest neighbourhoods, such as the Junction, Parkdale and Roncesvalles. Built in 1919, the building is six storeys of gorgeous apartments, each with large windows, beamed ceilings and exposed brick.
10.) Argyle Lofts
- Address: 183 Dovercourt Road
This stunning corner lot was built in 1873, and today houses 86 suites on six floors. Its redevelopment was completed in 2007 and maintained many of the original features, including high ceilings and exposed brick. Its main appeal, however, is its location. Steps away from Queen Street West, it’s the ideal spot to live to be close to Toronto’s famed west-end action.
Top 10 Toronto Soft Lofts
1.) Abacus Lofts
- Address: 1245 Dundas Street West
This eight-storey, 39-unit development features exposed concrete, large windows and glass walls. Its unique modern design is in stark contrast to the post-modern and brick housing nearby, but signals the quickly changing character of the Little Portugal neighbourhood.
2.) Annex Loft Houses
- Address: 483 Dupont Street
With an ideal downtown location in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood, this sleek condo residence was completed in 2012 and features a collection of 24 modern lofts. With 11-foot ceilings and spacious open concept floorplans, all the units carry beautiful brand-new finishes.
3.) Mozo Lofts
- Address: 333 Adelaide Street East
From Context Development Inc., the builders behind many of Toronto’s premiere loft projects – such as Kensington Market Lofts and District Lofts – Mozo is ideally located close to the world famous St. Lawerence Market and bustling Bay Street. Completed in 2004, the nine-storey building houses a total 211 designer lofts.
4.) Cube Lofts
- Address: 799 College Street
Designed by the renowned architects at RAW, Cube Condos is an intimate eight-storey condo situated right in the heart of downtown Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood. Residents at Cube Condos have access to a number of upgraded amenities including an exercise room, rooftop terrace and party room.
5.) Madison Avenue Lofts
- Address: 380 Macpherson Avenue
Located in Toronto’s historic Casa Loma neighbourhood, Madison Avenue Lofts offers residents easy access to Yorkville and the Annex, and is just minutes from Dupont subway station.
6.) Seventy5 Portland Lofts
- Address: 75 Portland Street
Located in King West, Toronto’s coolest downtown destination, Seventy5 Portland Street is a stylish condo with interiors designed by the internationally acclaimed Philippe Starck. Just steps from the city’s entertainment and fashion districts, boutique shops, galleries, bars and the best Toronto restaurants, Seventy5 Portland also offers easy access to the King streetcar.
7.) Beach Club Loft
- Address: 303 Kingston Road
This east-end development promises beautiful views of the lakefront and superior finishes, such as nine-foot ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. The location is also ideal. Residents can walk Woodbine or Kew Beach in 15 minutes.
8.) Riverside Square
- Address: 77-79 E Don Roadway and 661-677 Queen Street East
Consider this entry more of an honourable mention, as it’s not just one building but a planned community featuring four soft loft-style residential developments. It’s the latest project from Streetcar Developments, a company that has seriously changed the face of Toronto’s east-end with a range of residential and commercial buildings. The residential buildings of Riverside Square range from seven to 24 storeys, with over 850 units. Amenities include a rooftop infinity pool, fitness centre and a cabana terrace. Residents will also have quick access to the Queen Street streetcar, as well a the lively businesses that operate along this main street.
9.) Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos
- Address: 2131 Yonge Street
Located at the rapidly changing Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood, the Art Shoppe has one very important distinction: its lobby is designed by Chanel’s creative director Karl Lagerfeld. The upcoming 34-storey development will offer a mix of soft loft units and traditional condo apartments for a total of 652 units. Amenities include an infinity pool, fitness centre and courtyard.
10.) 109 OZ
- Address 109 Ossington Avenue
Ossington Avenue has become one of the city’s trendiest streets, and 109 OZ takes its inspiration from the vitality of this one-of-a-kind stretch. The 35-unit mid-rise development features one and two-bedroom suites with large windows, open-concept spaces and up to 1,200 square feet of space.
Before taking the plunge into the buyer pool and putting down an offer on a loft, it’s important to know what category of loft the residence falls under.
The main thing that separates a hard loft from a soft loft is authenticity (and a hundred years or so). Living in a soft loft still provides many benefits of a loft (hello, more sunlight!), not to mention the conversation-inspiring vintage quality of finishes like exposed piping. Many who live in soft lofts prefer the modern amenities of a newer building. New plumbing, electrical and heating, as well as air conditioning, all make soft loft living more comfortable (not to mention less expensive).
There’s no denying the allure of living in a loft space, whether it’s a new building or a turn-of-the-century heritage structure. And Toronto has plenty in both categories, which saw a development boom in the 2000s. Urban renewal projects have made this style even more popular in recent years, with many hard lofts used not only for residential uses, but commercial and retail spaces as well.