purple condo

This Toronto neighbourhood could get a bold purple-brick condo tower

When designing a recently proposed condo on Eglinton Avenue West, architect Babak Eslahjou wanted to try something different. 

“You see a lot of red and dark grey in Toronto,” said Eslahjou, principal at Core Architects, of condo facades in Toronto. “I haven’t seen a lot of purple — yet.”

That could change if Eslahjou and Core’s vision for the Arista Homes proposal to redevelop 444 to 466 Eglinton Ave. W. comes to life. 

The development application has been submitted to the City of Toronto for the site, which is located near the new Avenue station on the Crosstown LRT line, which is going to open one day. It occupies a large portion of a block on the north side of the Eglinton Way strip, west of Avenue Road. It contains a number of small but well-known retailers, including Josephson’s Opticians, Honey and a popular Starbucks.

What’s most striking about the proposed 19-storey, mixed-use residential tower, designed by Core, is that it features a seven-storey podium that’s made of glazed purple bricks.

“I’ve certainly dabbled into different colours of brick over the years,” said Eslahjou.

The choice of a purple condo is certainly uncommon. But the decision to use brick was more conservative-minded. It’s meant to reference the century houses that fill the low-rise neighbourhoods to the north and the south of the development site, which is on the northwest corner of Eglinton and Castle Knock Road. 

Expecting Eglinton Avenue West to be drastically redeveloped in the coming years and decades, Eslahjou said he sees the project as a chance to get more creative. After all, the established context might be turned on its head if more and more low-rise properties meet the wrecking ball. 

“We’re kind of dealing with a blank slate here,” he said of Eglinton’s future. “It’s like making an urban street from scratch,” he added.

The project includes 185 residential suites and would replace five of the current site’s existing six rental units, which are located above commercial units, including a Starbucks on Eglinton. 

Four properties within the development site are included in Toronto’s Heritage Register. 

“Being listed on the Heritage Register is not the same thing as being a designated heritage property,” according to the City of Toronto’s website. “Being listed means further evaluation of the property will take place if there is an intent to have it demolished.” 

Architecturally, efforts have been made to make the tower seem less imposing. 

“The overall vision here is that we were trying to take away from a building appearing to be tall,” said Eslahjou. 

Retail was another design priority. In all, the project includes 420 square metres of non-residential space. Ceiling heights for the retail area soar to six-and-a-half metres.

“Retail along that street is very important,” said Eslahjou. “This space is not gigantic, but it’s the whole length of the building on Eglinton,” he noted, estimating retail accounts for about half of the ground floor. 

“That allows us to get a good cross-section of the very top brands of retail,” said Eslahjou. Six of the building’s 33 parking spots are set aside for non-residential use.

The application was submitted in April and is being reviewed. A public meeting will be scheduled. 

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