An Authentic Brick & Beam Loft Townhouse In Little Italy’s Button Factoryoffered at $1,569,000
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For those seeking a unique urban home, there’s always a cool comforting vibe that emerges in a conversion that has fused its industrial past with contemporary domesticity. It becomes an environment that is not just about where you live – but how you live – and how the subtle nuances of a voluminous space flooded in natural light with soaring ceilings and expansive glazing truly enhance your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re ready to live the loft life in a breathtaking factory setting in a coveted location, this is a stellar contender!
Welcome to The Button Factory at 200 Clinton Street, Loft 3!
Sitting Pretty In Sought-After Little Italy
Located west of Bathurst Street north of College on Clinton Street in Little Italy, this vintage loft townhouse is in proximity to all the best amenities for urban life. Superbly situated, this residence is near equidistant to the Christie subway station or the 506 streetcars serving College Street, and just a few steps south of the Harbord Street bicycle lanes that run west to Ossington or east towards the University of Toronto and Queen’s Park. Need a car? There are several Car Share pick-up and drop-off spots nearby, with the closest being Enterprise five streets east on Bathurst Street just south of Ulster. If proximity to green space is important to you, or your furry best friend, this property is around the corner from the 2.8 hectare Bickford Park which offers two ball diamonds, two bocce courts, and a dog off-leash area; a block south of the 8.9 hectare Christie Pits Park at Bloor Street West and Grace Street which has three baseball diamonds, a multi-sport field, basketball and volleyball courts, an artificial ice rink, a children’s playground, and labyrinth, a splash pad, a wading pool, a larger outdoor pool, and a community garden; and a 10-minute stroll south to Dundas Street West and Gore Vale Avenue where the 14.6 hectare Trinity Bellwoods Park offers three ball diamonds, eight tennis courts, two volleyball courts, an artificial ice rink, a dog off-leash area, a picnic area, a wading pool, and a children’s playground, in addition to the Trinity Community Recreation Centre which has a comprehensive fitness centre and indoor swimming pool.
Do you love engaging in Toronto’s dynamic and diverse culinary scene? While the pandemic has put much of the interactive foodie experience on hold, some of the city’s very best restaurants dot Harbord Street both east and west of the property. To the north at Clinton and Bloor West is Koreatown – always packed with delicious options – and to the southeast is Kensington Market, boasting a dynamic multicultural fresh food market. At the bottom of Clinton is College Street, once regaled as one of the country’s Top 5 hippest neighbourhoods – even before Queen West and Ossington became cool! Lining College Street – from Markham west to Shaw Street – are numerous sidewalk cafes, including Kalendar Cafe, Cafe Diplomatico, and Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe, as well as headline-grabbing restaurants like La Carnita, Dai Lo, and Bar Raval.
Daily errands of a breeze in this community. There is a small plaza with a Shoppers Drug Mart and 24-hour Metro Grocer on the south side of College between Shaw and Crawford. At the bottom of Clinton are Langolina’s, Giancarlo’s, and Sotto Voce – all stellar eateries with patios Game gurus will have a ball at neighbouring Snakes & Lattes. Film fanatic? At College, just west of Clinton Street, is the recently renovated Royal Repertory Cinema, while the Ted Rogers Hot Docs Cinema just a stroll away on Bloor! Literally, everything you require for a domestic life of bliss is within walking distance for this loft. How amazing is that?
Without question, this location boasts ‘bright-lights big-city vibes’ – with all the accompanying amenities and opportunities – but at a pace and presence more akin to a neighbourhood village than the intensity and density one might otherwise expect in downtown Toronto. It’s what makes our ‘City of Neighbourhoods’ so special.
The Button Factory: One Of Toronto’s Most Desirable Factory Conversions
I hold The Button Factory very close to my heart, as I led the sales & marketing program for this charming brick and loft condominium of just 13 units back in 1993, prior to its conversion. I also resided in the complex for its first 18 years. One of the earlier factory conversions in the area – followed by two other conversions – The Movie House at 394 Euclid in 1999 & The Banquet Hall at 62 Claremont in 2000 that I would sell preconstruction (along with The Baseball Glove Factory on Sorauren at 1 Columbus in 1997 in Roncesvalles Village & The Monarch Building at 436 Wellington West in 1999 in the Niagara neighbourhood), this Little Italy neighbourhood was only just beginning to transition into one of the City’s hippest spots in the mid-1990s. Cafe culture – including the beloved Bar Italia – was just beginning to be embraced by Torontonians well before Starbucks was on our radar, and the convivial Pool Hall – of which Bar Italia was – and its explosion as a popular destination for social engagement – was just taking root.
In fact, Bar Italia played a significant role in the presales of Bar Italia, as it was where I met potential purchasers with the architectural drawings that I would roll out on an adjoining table. One time, as I concluded explaining the development process to a funky artist at the cafe, the stylish couple sitting at the table next to us turned to her and said “So which one are you going to buy?”. As she pointed to Unit 6, they exclaimed “Well, we’re going to be your neighbours!” as they pointed to No. 7 next door. I had no idea they were following our conversation so closely, and still to this day wonder how they collectively decided on that particular loft without chatting. Another time, after running through the custom-build program to a mature couple, I asked them what they thought and, after looking at each other and nodding, he said “I’ll take Unit 1” which was the largest in the building. Pleased as punch I started discussing the Agreement of Purchase & Sale and he interrupted me, turned to the woman, and asked her “What do you think?”, to which she pointed to one of the two townhomes that would be newly constructed at the very end of the mews walkway and said, “I’d like this one.” It turned out this particular couple was in the early stages of their relationship – so they purchased separate residences which they maintained until they decided to move into together – at which point they sold both their units to cohabitate. I considered that a very modern approach to domestic partnership back in the day!
Back then the neighbourhood was a domestic collection of cottages, row, semi-detached, and detached houses ranging from working to merchant class in character and quality, and College Street – a street dominated by Italian shoe stores – had zero condominiums.
Originally operating as InduTex – a textile firm that manufactured uniforms – the project’s name came when one of the local residents shared with me that – in his youth – he and the neighbourhood kids called it ‘The Button Factory’. Why? Because every day after school – once they finished their homework at the factory lunch tables – their mothers would keep them occupied by each paying them a penny for every ten buttons they picked up off the floor until their workday ended. It’s the perfect namesake, as it honours the spirit of the building’s past and its rich history with the neighbourhood.
The original factory – which consisted of seven sections built over the span of nearly a century – and its driveways and loading docks underwent a significant transformation in its conversion into townhomes. The ribbon of space running down the south side of the building instantly cried out to be a mews walkway, and by slicing the factory vertically, it allowed each unit to have its own private entry, removing the need for common halls. The front driveway to the north was dedicated to onsite parking for the first five units, situated under expansive outdoor decks. An architecturally bland addition spanning the rear of the building on Jersey Avenue was demolished and replaced with a new three-storey addition containing 2 modern lofts over a shared secure garage containing six parking spaces. And on the northwest side of the site, a substantial one-storey structure set back from the street that housed the loading docks and the large surface lot that the semi-trailers pulled into for deliveries, were also demolished. In their place, seven exclusive-use outdoor gardens (the original brick walls that wrap the gardens of Units 6, 7, and 8 are this original building’s footprint) and three surface parking spaces (of which the most northern spot is Guest Parking) were installed.
Initially offered as a custom design/build program, the 13 spacious 2 and 3 storey condominium loft townhouses, range in size from 1340 square feet to nearly 2500 square feet of interior living space, were offered as base shells, with the opportunity for buyers to custom upgrade their loft as part of the development program. Sold pre-construction while InduTex was still in operation, to instill a sense of community the first buyers collectively designed the mews walkway, choosing the lighting and paving stones (under the tutelage of designer Dan Nuttall) and deciding residents could have their own unique front door. This development program – implemented when the Toronto real estate market was still recovering from the 1989 crash – was geared to appeal to the three buyer profiles who were attracted to loft living. The first was Artists engaged in photography, sculpture, and painting, who gravitated to these spaces for their affordability, utility, light, and ceiling height; the second was creative professionals operating in the fields of media, design, and fashion who desired live/work incubators for progressive, liberated self-expression; while the third was white-collar professionals mostly in the fields of health care, finance, and technology who appreciated high-design, innovative architecture, and a commitment to living mise-en-scene. These groups – rejecting the status quo of the suburbs, the conformity of traditional housing, and the constrictions of standard materials and design – gravitated to loft living for its freedom from convention and as places for reinvention.
Because of the original design/build program – and the 25 years which have since passed – no two units are alike. They range in size, condition, and quality, each tailored by successive residents to reflect their own self-expression, personal success, and aesthetic preferences. As a result, they’re incomparable, both to each other and to other Toronto loft properties, representing a unique custom point-of-view specific to each discerning resident.
I Love Loft 3 – Where I’ve Represented Every Buyer & Seller Since Day One (26 Years Ago!)
I love The Button Factory’s mews walkway – which spans a length of 275 feet from Clinton Street to Jersey Avenue. Gated and secured by passcode for security, this private path allows owners to watch nature bloom, and hear some pretty bird song – devoid of traffic – on their way to and from their Button Factory abodes.
This special loft enjoys the benefit of being situated sufficiently west of Clinton Street that it’s extremely quiet. One might even say it’s peaceful, contemplative, and serene. Its north-south aspect provides a sun-dappled exposure on the mews walk, which becomes exponentially elevated on the second level where 2 massive windows provide unobstructed park-like vistas overlooking the neighbouring urban gardens. On the ground level north exposure, a convenient steel door connects to the covered carport with one car parking and your refuse/recycling bins. Directly above on the second level, a pair of french doors with sidelights topped by a bank of clerestory windows open onto a private 128 square foot sunkissed terrace. If you need sunlight as much as water, this is where light lovers such as yourself can rejoice, as a massive factory-size skylight floods both levels from sunrise to sunset making this loft particularly breath-taking.
Originally designed to be a larger 4-level loft of around 1750 square feet with a private roof terrace (similar to Units 1 and 2 where half the original second floor was demolished and 2 new floor plates with lower 8-foot ceilings were inserted in order to stay within the allowable 10-metre building height), the developers took my counsel and aborted this design when it became clear Buyers preferred the authentic 2-level lofts that featured original brick walls and exposed wood-beamed ceilings. Although this decision would reduce the square footage of the loft, it actually resulted in a much more livable and well-proportioned 1340 square feet that was immediately snapped up by a single woman – a Latin American Environmental History professor – who had inquired whether I might have something simple and unadorned that she could fill with books and showcase her collection of textiles from Mexico (Incidentally, single women comprised 25 percent of the original buyers).
What I especially adore about this exemplary loft townhouse, is that it marries the convenience and accessibility of having your own private front door, the patina and character of a vintage factory setting, and two distinct L-shaped levels that offer different zones for living. On the first level, from the mews walkway, one enters the front door with a south-facing window into a spacious foyer that flows into an open plan ‘Work From Home’ office/lounge (with attached flat-screen television and wall of bookshelves) that can easily be converted into a private second bedroom by installing a simple partition wall with a door. Featuring Scandi-plank floors, 11-foot original wood-beamed ceilings, exposed metal ductwork, and painted brick walls, there’s a sizable storage area under the stairs, a stacked laundry closet perfectly positioned by the bedroom, and instant access to your parking space.
My heart goes thumpety-thump for the bedroom, which is truly a sanctuary of domestic bliss. Behind a drapery of chain and damask, this cube of perfection with its painted brick walls and painted wood floors (I love the subtlety in texture when original materials are painted a neutral) has a full wall of closets, more can’t-get-enough rustic wood-beamed ceilings, and a massive window with peak-a-views of the neighbour’s brick-walled art studio. Fitted with blinds for just enough privacy and floor-to-ceiling draperies for black-out restorative comfort, this ‘west wing’ for sleeping ticks all my boxes when it comes to refuge and relaxation.
The 5-piece washroom, transformed in 2018 at an expense of about $40,000, is an artful balance of comfort and utility. Designed with careful consideration, the soaking tub and shower each have their own dedicated hot and cold water lines. while there is a custom-made laundry hamper with a bin for ease, and a heated towel rack instantly accessible when you’re ready to extract yourself from an indulgent soak. I love the expansive mirror, the clean-lined modern wall sconces, and the Zucchetti Bellagio bathtub handset. The exquisitely beautiful raw slab of marble was hand-picked with the fabricator carefully crafting its cutting and installation with perfection.
As you ascend to the ethereal upper level, you’ll feel your psyche lift and lighten as you climb into the expansiveness of the open concept entertainment zone. The arrival to this second level with its 10-foot ceilings is always a ‘moment’ for me, and it’s one that seems to be collectively shared by many who come here. Unlike the first level which presents as a unified cloistered collection of private articulated spaces, this floor feels like a supper club ready to get its groove on. It’s what I especially adore about the L-shaped layout (the only one of its kind that I’ve come across in the city to date) because it has both a width and breadth we rarely experience in traditional Toronto houses (which tend to be narrow) or even high-rise condominiums that are typically more compact. The generous dimensions of the original factory windows become clearly apparent on this level too, and the sightline to the south captures all that’s special about this urban neighborhood with its exceptional architectural vernacular, its piecemeal placement of built form, and the contrasting lushness of vegetation and treescape. And what I find truly magical is that this south exposure is completely private with no windows directly facing this loft. How amazing is that?
Divided into three zones with the stairwell and its open void serving as a transitional gallery, you may notice the variation in the wood flooring differs across this level as well as the small step up into the kitchen (be careful, don’t trip!). These elements are subtle clues indicating how the building was constructed in stages over time, (it was originally a small 2-storey building that had a 2-storey extension added on the street-side, and a 1-storey extension behind, which eventually had a second level constructed on top when shortly afterward a 1-storey building containing the loading bays was built on the north side of the building where the gardens are currently located – Yes it’s confusing!). Basically, over the years the additions and extensions were constructed to accommodate the growing factory.
On the upper level, the lounge is the first stop on the expressway to fun. Well-proportioned, and well-positioned under a huge skylight, this chill space has french doors set in an original aperture that opens to the 128 square foot terrace. Fitted with a Weber barbecue (included), this outdoor oasis is the perfect size to gather with pals – or nap solo – during the lazy days of summer. Cocktails, anyone? At the opposite end of the loft, the dining area claims its own window and exposed brick. I adore how the table for ten looks like it’s floating in an acre of space. Even the first time one sees this room, you know people have a good time when they’re hanging out here. I almost want to promise you your status of throwing a good dinner party will always be assured when you live in a space like this, even if you can’t cook! My friends certainly said so!
The kitchen is open yet contained. Having an impressive centre island with a breakfast bar and storage on the dining side, its double-sink is well-situated for the resident chef who can perform their culinary magic show while engaging the crowd. A Wolf gas range, a stainless steel fridge with an ice maker, and a built-in Bosch dishwasher form the preferred triangle of efficiency, while the custom butler’s pantry (butler not included) provides ample storage for all your needs. And yes, the huge window with a parklike vista makes this kitchen both memorable and special. In fact, every time I’ve been in this kitchen since the conversion was completed I imagine I’m hosting a cooking show because the space feels larger than life like a production set.
I’ve always had a special fondness for this particular loft. Not only was I involved in the design of this unit, but I’ve represented every buyer and owner in its 4 sales since Day One. Offering this unique urban home again – but for the first time in 17 years – demonstrates how connected I am to this heart-grabbing space. One of the more special Toronto real estate offerings on the market right now, and nestled in a Triple AAA location, this is ideal for the Buyer craving all the magical qualities unique to loft living. If you have questions or require more information, contact Steven Fudge at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Curious about loft living in Toronto? Check out Dear Urbaneer: What Is The Difference Between A Hard Loft And A Soft Loft?