by Duncan McAllister, QMI Agency
Charles Dickens may well have been at home against the backdrop of the old Victorian Gooderham and Worts Distillery complex. At this time of year, condo dwellers and visitors alike can experience the magic of Christmastime in Old Muddy York, as the historic neighbourhood is transformed into a holiday fantasyland.
For condo owners, this is one of the many advantages of living in the Distillery. One of Toronto’s most eclectic neighbourhoods has so much going on year-round, but the Toronto Christmas Market is the highlight of the season. For 800 years, the traditional Christmas Market has been celebrated in Germany and the surrounding European areas. But in Canada, up until about two years ago, very few people knew what they were.
Here you will find everything imaginable, from Santa Claus to fairytale forests to Christmas angels. There’s a Santa’s elves workshop for the kids, gingerbread houses, a carousel, ferris wheel and pony rides. European vendor cabins are set up throughout the streets for Christmas shoppers. On the weekends, the whole area is licensed for visitors to enjoy such European specialties as mulled wine, hot toddies and warm beer.
Mathew Rosenblatt is one of the developers of the Distillery District and executive director of the Toronto Christmas Market. “The truth is that it’s not really about any of these things, but it’s really the feeling that people get when they’re down in the Distillery at Christmastime. You have to see peoples’ faces, you have to experience it yourself and it’s incredible. It has this amazing small-town charm.”
Anne Leckie tells what it’s like to be a condo resident in the Distillery during the Christmas Market. “It gets you really in the spirit. We have this amazing tree and the whole canopy lights up between the buildings. On Friday night when it all begins, there’s going to be this whole introduction and it kick starts the season. And it’s just really joyous to be down there.”
According to Rosenblatt, they didn’t need a lot of advertising to sell the condo units. “In a sense the advertising was the Distillery itself. The people who live in the Distillery obviously made a decision that of all the places in Toronto that they could live, these people chose the Distillery because they love the destination so much to visit, they thought what a great community to live in and it’s all at my doorstep.”
The first of the Distillery projects, Pure Spirit lofts and condos at 33 Mill Street, has now been occupied for over three years. Jason Rosso has been a resident there for almost that long. He’s the corporate chef for Milestones Canada and has a bird’s eye view of the festivities from his condo unit. “My unit’s facing Distillery Lane so I look down into one of the quaint little side streets.”
From his vantage point, Rosso can witness the hustle and bustle this week as the Distillery ramps up for Christmas. “The cabanas are up right now for the retailing of all the little Christmas wares. And I think by the end of the week they’ll have the Christmas garden set up for the kids. Where Santa is, it’s literally right below me. It’s great to see the transformation. The lights are up right now. It really transforms the Distillery.”
Of the three Distillery condo developments, the latest is the Gooderham. Currently under construction at Mill and Trinity Streets, the 36-storey tower will have 328 units and is slated for occupancy in the autumn of 2013.
In May, Dundee Kilmer Developments broke ground for the Canary District Condominiums, a 369-unit building which will become a focal point of a mixed-use neighbourhood and essential piece in the West Don Lands redevelopment effort.