This broad street runs north from Bloor to Metropolitan Toronto’s bifurcating highway, the Trans-Canada or 401. South of Bloor, Avenue Rd is renamed University Avenue. There, it sways past the quarry stone exterior of the Royal Ontario Museum and around leafy Queen’s Park with its life-size equestrian statue of King Edward VII (originally from India), the grounds and Philosopher’s Walk of the University of Toronto, and Ontario’s Parliament buildings.
A very tony location bordering on Toronto’s fashionable Yorkville neighbourhood, the area is within easy walking distance of the upscale shops of Bloor Street West from Bay Street to Avenue Road itself. Typical examples of this wealthy shoppers’ mecca include Indiva, a fashionable mega-boutique occupying the ornate 12,000-square-foot space originally built as Toronto’s first stand-alone Versace boutique; bringing a taste of Bollywood to Toronto, exquisitely designed couture evening gowns and cocktail dresses offer South Asian-inspired sparkle. Traditionalists appreciate Tiffany’s marble front with a statue of Atlas holding a Roman numeral-faced clock, Rolex with its white and gold watch, and the wide range of designer flagship stores including Hermes, Chanel and Godiva Chocolates.
102 Bloor Street West is located between Bay and Avenue Road close to the best shops and restaurants of Yorkville and steps to the Bay subway station. Suite prices range from approximately $200K to $1.6 million, and with limited parking, the Green P on Cumberland Street is a boon (though residents of this exclusive address will not need a vehicle to navigate the city for their daily living needs, and indeed many can walk to work at the city centre). Nestled between the Benetton store and a fine jeweler, the building features a 24-hour concierge, the Bellair Club with elegant rooftop lounge, 2 roof top terraces with spectacular views and a fully equipped exercise room with saunas and change rooms. Views include the Louis Vuitton right across the street!
Completed in 1980, the 21-storey, 135-suite condo building is located on the north side of Bloor Street. Building amenities include a fully equipped fitness centre, indoor pool, recreation room, squash court, sauna, multi-purpose room and boardroom. Befitting the high-demand address, there is a 24-hour concierge and valet parking for guests. The location is excellent, with easy access to the shops on Bloor Street. Of particular interest to those seeking an escape from the tiny, cookie-cutter condos often seen downtown, at 110 Bloor Street West the one-bedroom suites are on average a whopping 1100 square feet, with two and three bedroom units over 3000 square feet. Some suites are on two levels, another benefit of this older building. Some suites feature balconies, and some have fireplaces. Only rarely are units placed on the market for sale; prices run from approximately $400K to $1.7 million.
102 and 110 Bloor Street West are only two blocks to Holt Renfrew, Toronto’s iconic upper-crust department store, and the city centre at Yonge & Bloor – a corridor to everything the big city has to offer. Only a block from these polished addresses is the Manulife Building at 55 Bloor Street West, whose Varsity Cinemas are patronized by locals and people from all over during the Toronto International Film Festival; the Manulife Centre also houses a range of shops from the decadent (William Ashley’s famous Wall of China, Birks for beautifully designed jewellery, Teuschers for a nibble of Europe’s finest chocolate) to the casual (Chapters, Jacob). The underground shopping network with such mainstays as the LCBO, Shoppers Drug Mart and Concepts Day Spa runs for an entire city block.
The designer boutiques proliferate on this “Mink Mile” in a concentration of wealth and opulence not found anywhere else in the city. Cartier is slated to open a flagship store here by year’s end, and current clothiers include Escada, Chanel, Hermes, Capezio, and many more, while pampering also gets its due with luxury skin care from such French specialists as L’Occitane, Sephora and Guerlain. Very popular, more relaxed fashion destinations here include Talbots, the GAP, Guess, Harry Rosen, and the Winners store which was controversial when it first came to the area for its downmarket approach.
The Colonnade at 131 Bloor Street West offers yet more luxury shopping and a place to rest weary feet outside the bubbling fountain which is its hallmark.
Just north of Bloor Street, the Prince Arthur is a luxurious condo built by the Minto Corporation. The building consists of two towers, with a beautiful arch connecting the two, through which residents drive to check in with the concierge at the gate before proceeding into the inner sanctum. There are over 150 suites, many with lovely Juliet balconies overlooking Avenue Road. Most of them are custom designed and sizes range from 1150 square ft to 4000 sq. ft. Conveniently located beside custom shopping at The Marlowe, an easy walk to Bay or St. George subway and the University of Toronto, prices range from approximately $450K to about $1.5 million.
Only steps from the building is the complex at 150 Bloor Street West known as the ‘Passage to Yorkville’, where private paths marked by flower urns and decorative borders lead to specialty shops shaded by navy blue awnings. The cozy atmosphere of cafes and patios lends a distinctly French air to this development located next to the inclusive Anglican Church, which features an ever-changing program of concerts and religious events.
Residents of 38 Avenue Road are a stone’s throw from the ROM with its thought-provoking, dramatic Michael Lee-Chin Crystal exterior and a frequent rotation of exciting cultural exhibits. The Park Hyatt hotel just opposite is currently undergoing a facelift; its fabulous steakhouse, Mortons, is happily open for business. Moving a couple of blocks west towards St. George Street, the University of Toronto sprawl begins in earnest, with sports events at the Varsity and top notch academic programs in the hallowed halls of St. George Campus. This neighbourhood is formally known as the Annex, which has endured for over a century as one of Toronto’s premier neighbourhoods, home to many successful businesspeople, prominent artists, community leaders and University of Toronto faculty and students who enjoy its diversity.
The Residences of Hazelton Lanes is a small, exclusive low rise building with two addresses & entrances, 18A Hazelton Avenue and 55A Avenue Road. The Residences are part of the “Original Hazelton Lanes” mixed-use complex built in the 1970’s which houses shops and restaurants on the first two floors and offices on the third. It is known as one of the “most pet friendly” buildings in City! Some owners have customized their suites, many are two stories and all suites have either solariums or private terraces (up to a shocking 2,000 square feet in size).
The building has no amenities other than 24hr concierge, but offers nearly direct access to the Four Seasons Hotel with its luxury restaurants Truffles (rich contemporary and Canadian cuisine, $$$$) and the Studio Café (excellent wine selection, brunch, prix fixe $$$); popular nightspot The Lobby Bar, and all that Hazelton Lanes itself has to offer. The Residences of Hazelton Lanes have one, two and three bedroom (plus) suites. They range in size from approximately 800 square feet to over 3,000 square feet and in price from about $385K to $1.3 million. Parking is only on a rental basis.
77 Avenue Road
77 Avenue Road is a lavish low-rise condominium building above Hazelton Lanes. Designed by Architects Webb Zerafa Menkes, it was built in the late 1980’s. Amenities include the rooftop terrace and Clubhouse Lounge on the second floor, as well as the ubiquitous 24-hour concierge. All suites include one of the following: a solarium, balcony or private terrace. Suites range in size from approximately 1,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet and prices run from about $400K to about $1.1 million.
In addition to Hazelton Lanes’ collection of galleries, shops and restaurants such as the Manyata Courtyard Café, with its spectacular open ceiling, resident pianist and delightfully old-fashioned live gown models circulating from the neighbouring shops ($$), 77 Avenue’s prime location offers easy access to all the amenities enjoyed by the upper class: Vidal Sassoon and Marc Anthony salons, Il Posto Nuovo (incredible Italian cuisine, courtyard seating, $$$) for fine dining and Whole Foods for fine dining at home, swanky spas & cosmetic beauty procedures at the medical clinic across the street…
Located just north of the high-end Hazelton Lanes where it is just a skip from the best shops and restaurants in Yorkville, with easy access to neighbourhing Rosedale and Summerhill. Restaurants like Sotto Sotto (frequented by celebrities such as Tommy Lee Jones, Mark Wahlberg, Robin Williams, Johnny Depp and Sharon Stone; the matriarch ‘Mama’ is still in charge of all the daily specials – signature dish is mushroom risotto, $$$), Sassafraz (famous party spot to see & be seen, recently burnt down & rebuilt, $$$), Boba, Prego Della Piazza and more! As the high demand Avenue Road & Davenport (Av & Dav) neighbourhood begins, this is a prime location to enjoy all the action especially during the Toronto Film Festival where celebrities including the above-mentioned stay at the Four Season’s, Hyatt, or the Intercontinental. Building features include a 24 hour concierge, valet parking, fitness centre with sauna, Theatre Centre, Business centre, and underground parking.
Residents enjoy close proximity to the Yorkville Club, everyday amenities such as dry cleaning and the Whole Hearth Bakery & Café for quick healthy bites, and also rub elbows with prestige addresses such as the NEFF Culinary Design Studio and the Ferrari/Maserati flagship store next door. The parkette at Boswell and Avenue Road offers an interesting artistic escape from the hustle & bustle of this busy neighourhood.
Up and Coming
If you love the neighbourhood but can’t seem to get in, rest assured that more condominium units will soon be available!
- 1 Bloor St E is the most anticipated condo launch and destined to become an icon. Located right at one of Toronto’s most important intersections, Yonge and Bloor, 1 Bloor St E will be Toronto’s tallest residential / commercial building in the city, reaching 80 stories. The developer, Bazis International, wants this condo to reflect Toronto’s growing global importance. 1 Bloor is to be a mixed use project, incorporating 100,000 sq ft of high end retail, a 120 room five star boutique hotel and a 500 suite ultra luxury condominium. The podium will have 3 levels of retail from Bloor to Hayden and showcase top brand retailers, restaurants and a lounge. Condo suites will vary in size from 550 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft penthouses.
- The New Four Seasons hotel and residences project will consist of two buildings; a 55-storey hotel-residential tower to sit atop a terraced 6-storey podium building at the northeast corner of Bay Street and Yorkville Avenue and a 30-storey residential tower on the south side of Scollard Street east of Bay Street. The residential lobbies will open onto internal courtyards and the towers would be linked together with a central access courtyard at ground level, as well as by a pedestrian bridge at the 6th storey level. The 55-storey building will accommodate ballrooms, banquet rooms and meeting rooms for the hotel as well as a fitness facility and a swimming pool on a rooftop terrace overlooking Scollard Street. World renowned landscape designer Claude Cormier plans to include an imported granite ‘urban carpet’ in the porte cochere area – the development’s credo will be ‘luxury, tranquility, and comfort’
Inside Avenue Road
Often the neighbourhood is referenced for its excess of ostentatious wealth. However, there is a lot more to the area!
Renowned all over the city is the string of flower shops at Avenue & Davenport. Growers (126 Ave), Yang’s (132 Ave), Kay & Young (136 Ave), Avenue (221 Dav), Parterre (182 Dav) and Lily Of The Valley (160 Dav) crowd together in an explosion of colour and fragrance. Unlike the expensive boutiques, here competition keeps prices low and selection high, with bouquets ranging from the simple to the romantic, from all-green foliage to exotic blooms.
To the east along Davenport, you can find a number of art galleries and spas that occupy the beautiful brownstones.
Even though it’s just steps away from posh, pricey Avenue Road establishments, Cantine (Italian fusion bistro, $) is surprisingly down to earth. Nestled away among the Av & Dav flower shops & another local favourite, discount fashion outlet Ends, Cantine offers Yorkville sophistication with Annex casualness.
The Future of the Neighbourhood
Avenue Road is not often equated with affordable housing, yet at 138 Pears Avenue, the St. Clares Multifaith Housing Project offers just that. The initial proposal was met with some fierce objections, but now residents appear to have embraced the 96-unit, seven-storey building that was formerly the Avenue Park Hotel since the first tenants began to move in in December, 2004. The tiny 200 square foot units have kitchenettes, full bathrooms and spacious balconies and were designed to provide affordable housing for people currently living in shelters. In addition, the Full Circle Cafe on the ground floor operates as a social enterprise, serving as both an internet cafe that provides nutritious and affordable meals for the building’s residents as well as a place where tenants are able to acquire job training and experience. The community garden at Pears has become another community-building focal point. The project offered its extra compost to the community gratis, and now its residents and their more wealthy neighbours are exchanging plants, gardening stories and advice on how to keep the squirrels away from their bulbs. Neighbours and Pears residents have also developed a carpooling arrangement to take pets to the Humane Society for check-ups, vaccinations and to avail themselves of discount pet supplies. Other community initiatives include a Good Food Box delivery every two weeks from Food Share, a co-op that gets food directly from farmers and puts it into the hands of people at a fair price.
Ultimately, despite projects like the one at 138 Pears, Avenue Road remains a very elite address available to only a relatively few people – though it welcomes visitors to live the high life within its boundaries.