Set amidst the backdrop of the largest and best preserved Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America, The Distillery Historic District is one of Toronto's hottest neighbourhoods. This unique pedestrian-only neighbourhood is certainly a gem to explore!
The Distillery District is a commercial and residential district located east of downtown with Parliament Street to the west, Mill Street to the north, Cherry Street to the east, and the parking area to the south with the condominiums along Distillery Lane forming hard edges to pedestrians. The 13 acres district comprises more than forty heritage buildings and ten streets, and is the largest collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America. It contains numerous cafés, restaurants, and shops housed within heritage buildings of the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery.
The Gooderham and Worts Distillery was founded in 1832 and by the late 1860's was the largest distillery in the world. Once providing over 2 million US gallons of whisky, mostly for export on the world market, the company was bought out in later years by rival Hiram Walker Co., another large Canadian distiller.
In the 90s less emphasis on distillery operations left the district increasingly derelict. Surrounding industrial and commercial buildings and structures were often demolished, leaving the former distillery surrounded primarily by empty lots. However, the closing of the remaining distillery operations in 1990 created redevelopment and investment opportunities for a district that contained the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America. The Distillery District was designated as a National Historic Site, and has been protected under the Ontario Heritage Act since 1976. It was even listed by National Geographic magazine as a "top pick" of tourist attractions in Ontario.
Yet another setback halted the revitalization of the district due to the economic recession of the early 1990's, which resulted in a crash of residential condominium prices and office lease rates in downtown Toronto. Nonetheless, two residential condominium buildings were constructed in the district.While the site awaited redevelopment and reinvestment, the district's ambiance began to attract numerous film shoots. Since 1990, the site has served as a location for over 800 film and television productions.
In 2001, the site was purchased by Cityscape Holdings Inc., which transformed the district into a pedestrian-orientated area which was later reopened to the public in 2003.
There are approximately 25 retail stores and boutiques in this pedestrian only neighbourhood, most with an artistic flair, ranging from clothing, curio, artisan & furniture shops. There are also 22 art galleries at The Distillery and a building dedicated to artist's studios open to the public.
If you need a break from shopping, soothe whatever ails you with a specialty coffee shop, chocolate maker, brew pub, wine bar and oyster house, just some of the savoury treats that await you. Foodies will also love the convenience of being able to walk to the St. Lawrence Market where you can find a smorgasbord of fresh meats and produce.
The Distillery District is largely composed of young adults and persons ranging from 20 to 59 years of age. You will notice that the area has a lack of single detached housing which is the reason as why most of the households contain 1 or 2 people . The immigrant population of the area is largely made up of persons of European descent with the overwhelming majority of the population not being visible minorities.
The Best Part
The best part of the Distillery District is that the traditional brick-paved streets and lanes are restricted to pedestrians and cyclists, with general motor vehicle traffic restricted to streets and parking areas outside of the district's historic centre.
During the holiday season, the Toronto Christmas Market, which is an annual outdoor tradition, opens within the Distillery District. The neighbourhood is turned into a magical 'town-like' area covered with twinkly lights, ribbon, and in the center of the market is a 54 ft Christmas tree!
The Worst Part
The area is restricted to pedestrian traffic only, which obviously makes parking a daunting feat at times.
The area is not very large therefore, there are no schools that service the area. You are restricted to attending schools located outside of the neighbourhood.
The Real Estate
There are 6 residential condominiums that provide the backdrop to this neighbourhood. The three most recent: Pure Spirits, Clear Spirit and Gooderham pay tribute to the history of the neighbourhood. These steel and glass condominiums towers are ultra contemporary and were designed by award winning architect Peter Clewes and feature interior designs by Ava Janikowski.
Condominium units in the neighbourhood range in size from approximately 500 square feet to 1500 square feet. The Gooderham condo has some larger units around 2,000 square feet. Contemporary suite layouts feature 9' foot ceilings, large windows and wrap-around balconies.
The area is not very large therefore, children must attend schools outside of the neighbourhood.
Are you thinking about calling Distillery District your new home?
Contact us today, and we can get started on finding you a home in this one-of-a-kind Toronto neighbourhood