Altared states: How Blue Diamond, a new Forest Hill condo tower, will spur the rebirth of a beloved but disused church

31 Oct Altared states: How Blue Diamond, a new Forest Hill condo tower, will spur the rebirth of a beloved but disused church

Well into the second half of the 20th century, Toronto was known, sometimes disparagingly, as Toronto the Good and even the City of Churches. Fast forward to 2014, and while many of the churches are still here, their congregations have moved on.

Quite a few of these dignified old edifices occupy what has become primo real estate: the heart of urban neighbourhoods or on major downtown streets. Given the unrelenting demand for city homes, it’s not surprising that condo builders are looking at them with an eye to redevelopment.

But whether you have religious feelings or not, churches are not like other buildings that have outlived their original purpose. Many were built with great care and have deep personal meaning for the parishioners and neighbours they once served. It seems viscerally wrong, somehow, to just knock down a church and put up a condo tower in its place.

There’s a ready demand for a new use for decommissioned churches as small-scale condo buildings; such features as stained glass windows, exposed wood beams and quirky layouts are the apotheosis of trendy urban living. But is this the only way to reanimate an old church?

 

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