15 Apr A King’s Handsome
The area — bound by Dufferin to the west, Spadina to the east, Queen to the north then south to the lake—has enough gyms to enthrall the most athletic of appetites: Quad, the original spinning joint (opened in 2002), followed by Cykl and Union, a studio that offers barre classes to satisfy grown women whonever realized their dreams of becoming ballerinas.
“Quad is a bit industrial, and Union is more high-end— they epitomize the way the neighbourhood has changed,” Ms. Rapps says, sipping a café mocha. Indeed The Fashion District at King and Bathurst — or shmata central in the old parlance — has an astoundingly different feel from two decades ago, when a hot night out began with wings at the Wheat Sheaf Tavern and ended at an illegal loft on Stewart Street (this old chestnut comes from first-hand experience).
Today, skyward square footage in the form of The Thompson Hotel, and its happening Lobby bar with DJ), as well as a concentration of other condos and restaurants has made it a destination. And as a result, Ms. Rapps admits King West is not the most car-friendly. Traffic jams are intense in the Entertainment District on weekends, in an area where the King 504 streetcar is the busiest line in Toronto, serving 50,000 passengers daily.
But who needs to drive when you can hit the pavement à la Jane Jacobs? “You can really feel the essence of a place by walking,” says Ms. Rapps, who, on top of her cardio regimen, prefers her feet to the Fiat. “When I go travelling, that’s how I discover the little gems that make a neighbourhood quaint.”
One such stroll led her to Cheesewerks, a grilled cheese joint on Bathurst and Wellington,
where her regular, the “Los Angeles,” sees havarti getting it on with smashed avocado on sourdough. Ms. Rapps also does trivia at the eatery with her group, “the cheese whizzes.” “We also love Gusto 101 on Portland,” she says of the hot boîte with industrial lights, open kitchen, wood-fire Tuscan grill, which this week won an award for design firm Munge Leung. It offers wine on tap from its basement micro-winery at $1 an ounce. (It was the
first restaurant in Toronto to debut the service, and it has a show-stopping retractable glass roof that turns the space into an outdoor patio in the summer.) Best bets by chef Daniel Mezzolo: fettuccini funghi, char-grilled octopus, kale salad, meatball pizza. Banker Deb Grosdanis and her accountant fiancé, who are both in their early thirties, are also King West denizens who love living close to their Financial District jobs.“The neighbourhood is extremely walkable,” Ms. Grosdanis says. “And there are so many great restaurants like Alimento for its fantastic woodoven pizzas and Wurst for their sausage. I also really like Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse and Brioche Dorée” she says. “And Soma for their iced hot chocolate in summer—it’s so good.”
Ms. Grosdanis is so smitten with her neighbourhood thatshe isn’t straying far from it for her upcoming bachelorette. She’s getting her nails done at the Beauty Line, a salon on the
corner of Bathurst and King—“good prices for such a trendy neighbourhood,” she notes — while the actual party will likely be held at Calphalon, the culinary centre at the corner
of King and Spadina. “They have fabulous cooking classes,” Ms. Grosdanis says. “It’s great since you get to learn while you’re eating. Instead of going out to dinner, I’ll probably start the evening there with the girls.” Another, perhaps more remarkable, makeover has also taken effect at Liberty Village, branded as such by the City of Toronto in conjunction with property developers, to give it caché. Dudsville a decade ago in terms of liveability, today the former industrial zone with beautiful turn-of-the-century buildings, including the Toronto Carpet Factory and the mixed-use Irwin Toy Factory, is a tight-knit community
packed with conveniences. There’s the Metro, where super-fit shoppers load up on wild salmon and Greek yogurt after doing crunches at the 24-hour GoodLife Fitness; a progressive doctor’s facility called the Village FamilyHealth Team, with its affectionately displayed rainbow stickers. And condos galore, which can be furnished from the local Casalife, West Elm or EQ3. “I call Liberty Village Melrose Place,” says Gabriel Gallucci,
32, a mortgage specialist, as he takes a seat at Balzac’s, holding a bottle of water almost
apologetically: “I’ve had like five espressos today,” he says. You’d never know it from his
The casually dapper Mr. Gallucci is emblematic of the people who live and
work in the area’s modernized industrial buildings — they’re young and they’re going places on their own terms.“I bought a three-storey townhouse with a big rooftop terrace overlooking the city,” says Mr. Gallucci, who lives with his younger brother, Sebastian,
a meatball entrepreneur. Mr. Gallucci himself is a foundingpartner at the Denova Group, housed in 99 Atlantic Ave. The charming commercial building with nicked hardwood floors and factory-style windows has business spaces that feel like someone’s Manhattan
pad, instead of bleak fluorescent-lit offices. It suits 99 Atlantic’s tenants perfectly — these include music-recording studio Diamond Factory, advertising agency Soda & Tonic and the fundraiser group Grassroots. “Liberty Village is full of young professionals,”Mr. Gallucci says. “You’re part of a small community — it’s cool that you can say hi to someone during
the day, and then see them later on when you’re out for dinner.” Mr. Gallucci frequents William’s Landing, Brazen Head, Locus and Panino & Co., then hits the neighbourhood Florida Jacks boxing gym to rid himself of the calories. “My brother and I have only been living here for three months and already we’ve made friends with our neighbours — we regularly have dinner at each other’s places,” Mr. Gallucci says. “My townhouse is filled with people four times a week— there’s a Leafs game in the background, lots of meatballs
and the red wine is flowing.” Now that’s life and the pursuit of happiness in Liberty Village.
LIBERTY MARKET LOFTS
Builder: Lifetime Developments and BLVD Developments
Location: Hanna Avenue and East Liberty Street
Availability: Only a few remaining penthouse suites ranging from 714 to 735 sq. ft.
Priced: from $437,900 to $449,990
Hot tickets Live/work residents: Will enjoy a business centre with multiple meetings rooms, private art gallery, landscaped courtyard, fitness centre including an indoor basketball half-court and yoga room
Contact: 416-546-7525 or visit inventoryboutique.com