Last Labour Day, Neil Pattison, the vice-president of project management at Graywood Developments, got a call from Samuel Choy, a senior building inspector at the City of Toronto. Choy told him a fire was raging at one of Graywood’s sites, in a heritage house on Jarvis Street, just south of Carlton, that was being incorporated into the base of an upcoming condominium. “It was significantly damaged,” says Pattison. “The fire crew wanted to rip the thing down.” But Pattison flew into damage-control mode to see what could be done to preserve the 5,000-square-foot structure.Over the next week, a machine operator “removed the balance of the building with surgical precision the biggest back hoe you have ever seen,” says Pattison. The north and the east facades were retained, and the dwelling, built in 1902, earned a historical plaque in the process. (The house is one of the few remaining mansions along Jarvis, similar in scale to the nearby Keg mansion.)

Today, the site is a shell of steel and reinforcing blockwork. The basement has been temporarily filled to ensure the remnants of the building last for two years, at which time Graywood, in conjunction with Phantom Developer, will build JAC Condos around it, tying in the old mansion with the new podium tower. Designed by Turner Fleischer Architects, the 34-storey, 489-suite building is slated for occupancy in summer 2024. Starting in the $400s, suites range from 335-square-foot studios to three-bedroom configurations. The condo will be built beside Okuda San Miguel’s 23-storey mural Equilibrium. “The mural has this pattern of prismatic shapes,” says Pattison. To complement it, JAC’s exterior will have extruded metal panels treated with a special paint that changes colours with the sun. As for that old house, restoring it will be a royal hassle, but according to Pattison it’s worth it. Heritage architecture adds personality and charm, he says. Graywood is doing something similar at their Wonder Condominiums in Leslieville, where the old Weston bread factory stood. With Wonder, “it was important to preserve the heritage fabric, as it is a prominent landmark building,” says Pattison.

In JAC’s case, the mansion hearkens back to the neighbourhood’s heyday. “Jarvis was a grand promenade, where prominent people lived up until 1930,” says Pattison. Then the moneyed moved to Rosedale, and Jarvis “changed into this mishmash of rooming houses and apartment buildings. Our plan is to bring back the grandeur and splendour of this property, so we’re going to rebuild the house how it was.” The heritage house’s brick exterior is a nod to the past, while “the interior is going to be wide-open spaces,” says Pattison.

The area the heritage structure occupies will be a low-key zone, where residents can hang out in a quiet library, a co-working space, meditation rooms and a yoga studio. The amenities mix is the result of a roundtable discussion the developer held with 30 students at nearby Ryerson. Since they’re the target demographic, Pattison felt their input was invaluable. Brian Woodrow, a senior designer at Tomas Pearce – the firm dressing the condo’s interiors – is a Ryerson graduate from the Interior School of Design, so he made the connection.

Hearing the students wanted “a quiet space was a surprise for us,” says Pattison. “They want to come home and switch off.” The most popular request, however, was for in-suite laundry, a luxury missing from dorm rooms. Apart from the chill spaces, common areas will also include a media room, gardening room, fitness studio and dogwashing station that pet owners access through a side door so as not to dirty the lobby. After all, this condo is made for Rover – Allan Gardens is across the street.

The spectacular historic park rambles over 13 acres and has a leash-free area, a playground and that wonderful dome-shaped glass conservatory filled with fine flowers, tropical vines and showy succulents. There’s even a pond with fish and turtles. Walk through and you’ll hear the sound of trickling water – a chill space in its own right. Prices starting in the $400,000s.

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