Realtor Laurin Jeffrey says he knows a sweet place to live in Roncesvalles Village.
The Robert Watson building, a former confectionary factory located on Sorauren Avenue, houses some of the most sought-after residences in the city, said Jeffrey, a sales rep at Century 21 Regal Realty Inc. Brokerage.
“People are always asking me if there are spaces available,” Jeffrey said. “It’s a beautiful building, it’s one of the best conversions in Toronto.”
The building has been converted into high-end lofts, and recently received an honourable mention from Heritage Toronto in their William Greer Architectural Conservation and Craftsmanship category.
“The jury considered this project to be a good example of adaptive reuse of a 100-year-old industrial building and its integration into a residential development project,” said the award’s jury.
The original structure at 363 Sorauren Ave., designated as a heritage site in 2008, is connected to a new six-storey building.
The former R&T Watson Co. confectionary factory, built in 1903, features two new storeys and repaired masonry, but the old block letters on the building’s facade have been left intact.
“If you look really close on the north side, you can even see an ad for Columbia Records,” Jeffrey points out.
This makes for an eclectic mix of old and new, with an industrial exterior and high-end, furnished lofts on the inside. So-called “authentic” lofts, which must be a conversion from a warehouse, factory, or other industrial building, are very rare in Toronto and in high demand, said Jeffrey.
“I wish more people would sell them, people are always asking me for them,” he said.
But it’s often the high wooden ceilings, century-old brick walls and open space concept that makes them popular, rather than their history.
“It’s unfortunate, but most don’t care that much about what it was or the history of it,” Jeffrey said. “They want that old brick beam concrete space.”
The building’s namesake, Robert Watson, was an Irish immigrant who started a confectionary factory in the late 1800s. The company was a success, and continued to grow until he moved his factory to Roncesvalles Village.
According to Jeffrey, Watson is the only historical figure in Toronto who has had two of his former properties converted into lofts. His former home at 234 St. George St. has also been converted into a new residential property.
Jeffrey said the original structure does not have a high turnover rate and he’s always looking for open spaces because the units are in such high demand. In fact, when he first laid eyes upon the building, he wanted a piece of it for himself.
“I almost bought one … It’s one of those ones, where you just know these are going to do well.”