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Rome wasn’t built in a day

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Last night I attended the kick off party for a new loft / laneway / condo development called Lanehouse. It’s in the Bloor and Dufferin area of Toronto, which is an area I know quite well as I used to hang out there when I was living off St Clair West. I used to go to 3 Speed, Bar Neon, Tall Boys and Bassline.

The project is located at 50 Bartlett Avenue. It’s a renovation of an existing 2-storey laneway structure, as well as the addition of a new building fronting onto Bartlett. In total there will be 16 units. For the 13 “loft houses” going into the existing building, a third floor will be added containing indoor space and a terrace. I’m not exactly sure what the balance of the other units will be like.

It’s a really neat project. But what I’m also excited about is that it’s a type of laneway housing. As many of you will know, I’m a big fan of laneway housing–however difficult they may be to achieve in our great city. But one of the ways you can often build them, is if there’s an existing laneway structure in place–which is the case at 50 Bartlett.

It’s also helpful to have frontage onto a street with a proper name. Otherwise you have a “house behind a house” condition. Most laneways aren’t named and the city doesn’t consider them to be a real street. They’ll ask: what would your address be? So even though you may be able to access them from a laneway, the city would view those houses as having no real frontage.

There are of course many other obstacles, but those are some big ones.

While I would love to see the city actually jump on board with laneway housing (and develop proper policy around them), I’ll take this project as evidence that we’re headed in the right direction–towards a city where laneways have been rebranded, repurposed and entirely reimagined. That’ll be an exciting time.

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