Toronto Star Article – Acting up at the Carlaw

By:  Staff Reporter., Published on Thu Aug 08 2013

Crow’s Theatre performance space will animate development now under construction in Leslieville.

Leslieville has undergone a tremendous transformation over the past decade, the once-industrial area now among the city’s most in-demand residential neighbourhoods.

Midrise condos have played a big part in the revitalization, but few of the projects have offered much in the way of neighbourhood amenity. “There’s been a real void in community programming,” says Jason Garland, vice-president of development for Streetcar Developments.

Streetcar plans on filling that void with The Carlaw, a 12-storey midrise now under construction on the northeast corner of Carlaw Ave. and Dundas St. E.

The condo will include a 10,000-square-foot performing arts facility and community hub at the base of the building. Operated by Crow’s Theatre — an award-winning independent Canadian theatre group — it will be the first performing arts facility of its kind in the eastern end of the city.

Joe Lobko of DTAH Architects, the firm behind the Wychwood Barns and Evergreen Brickworks adaptive reuse projects, will design the space.

The facility will include three venues for cultural programming and community events: a 3,000-square-foot, 200-seat, three-storey multipurpose theatre; a 1,200-square-foot rehearsal hall; and a lobby with gallery space, commercial kitchen and cafe.

The Carlaw facility will offer contemporary theatre and community programming, with opportunities for “non-professionals to take an active part in artistic creation,” promises Crow’s Theatre artistic director Chris Abraham, himself a Leslieville resident.

“Our ambition is to try and bring a new audience into the theatre,” he says. “We saw a real opportunity as an arts organization to do some pioneering work, to make a commitment to an emerging community and incite and nurture a conversation with that neighbourhood over a long period of time.

“We’re hoping our neighbours will become the audience members for the theatre we do,” he adds, “and that they’ll feel like they can have an experience of culture on a number of levels at this facility.”

The space will also host farmers’ markets, community meetings and fashion shows, among other uses.
The Carlaw’s 320 loft suites range from 392-square-foot studios to 818-square-foot two-bedroom units. Prices start at $214,900. Nearly 70 per centof the condos have been sold. Occupancy is slated for the end of 2014.

Streetcar recently released The Carlaw’s 21 stacked townhouses. Located on the east side of the building, these two-level, two-bedroom homes will range from 948 square feet to 1,800 square feet. Prices start at $479,900.

The townhouses — with private outdoor terraces and parking spots — are designed to function as live-work units for local artists or small businesses. “You can have an office and your private bedroom and washroom upstairs,” says Warren.

The townhouses are a viable option for young families who “want to be in this neighbourhood but are frustrated they can’t get into the market,” she adds. “We’re providing an opportunity here.”
Suites at The Carlaw, designed by Seven Haus, will have nine-foot ceilings, pre-finished engineered hardwood flooring, and exposed concrete columns.

Kitchens will have quartz or granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, including dishwasher. Bathrooms will have stone countertops, soaker tubs and porcelain tile flooring.

Amenities at The Carlaw include a fitness centre, two guest suites and a rooftop terrace and lounge with cabanas and barbecues. There will also be a central courtyard on the ground floor.

The Crow’s Theatre space will be surrounded by tall glass walls, yielding views to passersby of the activity within. “We want to make it very transparent,” says Streetcar vice-president of corporate development Alie Warren. “We want the theatre to draw in the surrounding community and be a part of the pedestrian realm.”

“And we want the work that’s going on behind those doors to be open and seen by the community,” says Abraham. “That’s one of the best ways to advertise what you do.”

Crow’s plans to officially launch the theatre in 2015, with a debut performance that will coincide with the Pan Am Games taking place just down the road in the West Don Lands.

“Our ambition here,” Abraham explains, “is to remove obstacles for people of a child-bearing age to have culture in their lives by offering a mix of community events and programming throughout the day that is accessible to adults and kids.

“And The Carlaw is perfectly situated,” he adds. “That corner has the potential to become the new core of that Leslieville neighbourhood.”


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