Waterfront Communities-The Island

Real Estate Guide: Waterfront Communities-The Island

Draper Street’s beautifully preserved heritage homes are an anomaly in this condo-heavy neighbourhood

  • toronto real estate board overview
  • located in sector: C01
  • average 2012 sale prices
  • all homes: $439,247
  • detached houses: $816,989
  • semi-detached houses: $687,513
  • townhomes: $433,988
  • apartments: $409,874
  • neighbourhood map: see map

This sprawling neighbourhood is impossible to think of as a unit. From the eastern Port Lands to Queen and Bathurst, what the city refers to as the “Waterfront Communities” ranges through the Distillery District, St. Lawrence, The Esplanade, Harbourfront, the King Street theatre district, the Draper Street heritage district, the Air Canada Centre, the Rogers Centre and CN Tower, Queen and John, the club district and the Toronto Islands. The handful of houses that exist are scattered and mostly remnants of all the development (though there are occasional dramatic holdouts, such as the half-dozen houses on Widmer Street just north of the King West restaurant strip). Condos, however, have been going up steadily—the City Place series is one of Toronto’s largest. All that can be said of the waterfront is that it has been a mess ever since Simcoe died in 1806. There have been some small-scale attempts to dress up bleaker parts with umbrella-dotted beaches in HTO Park and the Jarvis Slip. But plans for ambitious overhauls dominate much of the revitalization talk. The East Bayfront project, between Jarvis and Parliament, will introduce a mixed-use community to the lake, rigged up with park space, boardwalks, a George Brown campus and an environmentally friendly condo. The mostly residential mega-project, the West Don Lands, is a planned riverside community stretching over 32 hectares near the Don River. There’s still a flurry of discussion over what to do with the 400 hectares that makes up the Port Lands, but city hall and planners are still working out how much park space and how much development the formerly industrial lands should have. In the middle of all this are, as the above list attests, some of Toronto’s most vital and distinctive cultural and institutional assets. Houses seldom come up for sale on the island. When they do, there’s a lottery.

  • St. Lawrence
    171 Front Street East, 393-7665
  • ALPHA Alternative Junior School
    20 Brant Street, 393-1880
  • Oasis Alternative Secondary School
    20 Brant Street, 393-9830
  • The Waterfront School
    653 Queens Quay West, 393-8500
  • Island Public/Natural Science School
    30 Centre Island Park, 393-1910
  • Downtown Alternative School
    85 Lower Jarvis Street, 393-1881
  • Market Lane Junior and Senior Public School
    246 The Esplanade, 393-1300
  • City School
    635 Queens Quay West, 393-1470
  • Voice Intermediate Private School
    55 Mill Street, building 32, suite 200, 691-4639
  • St. Michael Annex
    50 George Street, 393-5387
  • neighbourhood hot spots

C’est What?
With a large and eclectic selection of microbrews and knowledgeable staff members who’ve been there upwards of a decade, this underground warren is one of the city’s great beer bars. The juicy lamb burgers aren’t bad, either. 67 Front St. E., 416-867-9499.

Distillery District
Balzac’s Café is good, the Boiler House impressive and the Soulpepper performances essential, but it’s the area as a whole that draws people. 55 Mill St.

The Rectory Café
A drink here is like a visit to a tiny rural village in the middle of the city. 102 Lakeshore Ave., Ward’s Island, 416-203-2152.

St. Lawrence Market
Rich pierogies, fresh produce, veal sandwiches, gourmet cheeses, top-drawer meat and gregarious butchers are in abundance at the various stalls of this venerable Toronto institution. The bounty gets even bigger during the Saturday morning market, when some 40 local farmers and food vendors set up shop. 92 Front St. E., 416-392-7120.