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Real Estate


Condo of the Week: $400,000 for a compact living space next to St. Lawrence Market

Condo of the Week: 81A Front Street East

Address: 81A Front Street East, Unit 307
Neighbourhood: Church-Yonge Corridor
Agents: Christopher Kowal, Royal LePage Urban Realty, Brokerage
Price: $409,000

The Place: A third-floor unit in the historic St. Lawrence Lofts. The Lofts are made up of three distinct pre-confederation buildings that once housed the warehouse and office spaces of wholesale grocers. Today, the main floor of the building is home to a Starbucks and a Spring Rolls.

Bragging Rights: The custom acid-dipped steel backsplash and textured concrete walls are components of the unit’s extensive renovations by Stroudfoot (designers of restaurants like Yours Truly and Origin) in collaboration with Commute Home (Patria, Nyood). It’s the only residential unit Stroudfoot has ever designed.

Big Selling Point: St. Lawrence Market is literally seconds away. Fresh fruits, warm bagels and salty peameal bacon sandwiches are right there for the taking.

Possible Deal Breaker: At 500 square feet, it’s not a big unit—but the historic neighbourhood is perfectly suited to leg-stretching strolls.

By the Numbers:

• $409,000
• 500 square feet
• $344.67 in monthly maintenance fees
• 1 bedroom
• 1 bathroom
• 1 historic marketplace

  • Torontopoly

    It’s beautiful but tiny for the price and what amenities are included in the maintenance fees ? My guess is nothing but I suppose they’re low. Also, if this is a pre-confederation building it couldn’t have been built in the “late 1800′s” seeing as confederation was around the middle (1867).

  • LtDan

    Cool space in a great location, but I’d think the deal-breaker would be that sleeping space, at least for anyone over six feet.

  • Karen Pottruff

    Could not imagine living in a space with 500 sq. ft. The location is driving the price up.

  • SteveKupferman

    Yup, “pre-confederation” and “late 1800s” are a contradiction in terms. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve fixed the sentence.

  • slicecom

    Hard to beat the location, not a bad looking place either. Price is steep for the size, but probably in line for a historic building in the area.

  • Sarah

    Wow, I’ve always wanted a place with a couch as my kitchen island!

  • Ben Smith

    I can not believe anyone would pay this price for something that small. There is literally no dinning room table and you are eating in the kitchen. Unbelievable.

  • Steve Bako

    $800 per sq ft small tiny condos are still afloating in Toronto ? I cant wait to see SOLD on this…. MADNESS. You could burn your back and hair off with your sofa turned right to the Stove… LMFAO. Crazy… u call that a 1 bedroom ?

  • Don

    I’ve been to this small box of an apartment. I recall the owner telling me he was going to sell it for over a million one day. I said, yeah, if you’re alive 80 years from now.

  • disqus_Ge66ya39yo

    I don’t think .70/sq ft is low maintenance. The conversion is only 10 years old and there are no amenities. Similar buildings are closer to .55/sq.ft.

  • Christopher Kowal

    I sense a lot of hostility from some of the people commenting on the unit. I suspect that it stems from the frustration that prices continue to be out of reach of a lot of first time buyers. I would suggest that these people search for homes with standard builder grade finishes, not those with very high end upgrades and renovations. There is still quite a lot available on the market that is affordable for these people without the quality of finishes that this unit affords.
    I would like to address a couple of the comments made. First I would like to clear up the issue of the pre-confederation style. 81 Front was built in 1857 and 85 Front in 1858 and 77 Front (farther west) was built in 1860. Last I checked these dates are all pre-confederation.
    Yes, the bedroom is very small but that is a queen size bed in the room. Dimensions of a queen size mattress are 60″x80″ or 5′x6.666′. I know many people who are well over 6′ tall and sleep on queen size beds.
    The living area is actually relatively spacious. The owner of the unit has the sofa set up in the position that it is because he is an audiophile and has made listening to music his priority. There are many possible configurations for furniture that would allow the sofa to be well away from the kitchen. It just takes a little imagination and a spacial sense to figure that out.
    Yes, the price of $800 per sqft does seem high. Chaz on Charles St. has a 368 sqft unit available for sale priced at $329,900 (plus develepment charges on closing). That’s $897+ per sqft for the standard builder finishes (which, admittedly are very nice in Chaz), but not of the same quality as this unit.
    Maintenance fees are $344. All utilities (heat, AC, hydro, water) are included which means there are no hydro bills. Newer condos all have hydro metered individually and the most recent builds also have water metered separately. Average cost for hydro is approximately $50/month. If one deducts this $50 that one would pay for hydro and water in any newer condo, the fees would then work out to approximately $0.58 per sqft. Bear in mind that smaller boutique buildings always have higher maintenance fees because the cost of maintaining the building is dispursed among fewer units.
    There is a lesson to be learned with this unit. A seller must always be wary of what we call “over-improvement”, i.e. spending too much on renovations. If a seller is planning to renovate to flip, do not over-improve because it is unlikely that the seller will recoup the money upon resale. It is fine to spend a lot on renos as long as one is doing it for one’s own long term enjoyment but should not expect that the general public will take kindly to an asking price that reflects the time, effort and quality that one has spent on the project. It takes a unique buyer with distinctive tastes to appreciate the superb quality of a unit like this.