Ad execs working in the nabe love the Brazen Head Irish Pub.
The other side of the tracks wasn't always what new home buyers were looking for, but Liberty Village has changed all that. Over the course of a few short years, the pocket of once mostly industrial land between Strachan, Dufferin, King and the Gardiner Expressway has been developed into one of downtown's hottest 'hoods, offering proximity and privacy, new buildings and old architecture and living and working space to urbanites who want it all.
Converted lofts and new townhomes combine at Liberty Village.
Just-built town homes and condos mix with converted warehouses. Young families live next door to film and recording studios. Area fixtures like Lamport Stadium, where Caribana crowns its king and queen every summer, and the grand Carpet Factory building loom over sprawling strip malls and gentrified blocks.
Photo By Ethan Eisenberhg
1. Buildings on Mowat have history. 2. Stroll Liberty Village in style. 3-6. Green Design caters to eco shoppers. 7. Converted warehouses loom. 8. Balzac's brews up a storm. 9. Casalife loves all things small-space-friendly.
While the juxtapositions stump some urban purists, it's hard to think of another recently remade area that better incorporates contemporary planning's ideals: live where you work, mix uses and infill.
The area has had no trouble attracting residents on the pickier side of the taste spectrum. The Fashion Design Council of Canada, womenswear designer Arthur Mendonça, Corus Entertainment and design firm Precipice Studio all call Liberty Village home. Ad execs flood local lunch spots like Magic Oven Pizza (127 Jefferson, 416-539-0555, magicoven.com) or the Brazen Head Irish Pub (165 East Liberty, 416-535-8787, brazenhead.ca) at the stroke of noon. Gridlock takes over dead-end Atlantic Avenue every Fashion Week as editor taxis and Town Cars rush to the Joe Fresh headquarters for a peek at next season's looks.
If this buzzing neighbourhood has a modern-day Main Street, it's the Liberty Market Building (171 Liberty, 416-530-9866, libertymarket.ca). The 300,000-square-foot campus of reclaimed warehouses stretches along the south side of East Liberty east of Hanna.
Haveli Home's (#113, 416-539-8055, havelihome.com) space used to be a munitions factory but is now filled with new, reclaimed, recycled and vintage furniture from India. Owner David Anderson has a background in fashion manufacturing, so bright textiles and silky pillows fill up rich teak shelving and armoires faced with old doors and windows. Heavy tables, benches and storage units are finished in three distinct styles. South Indian pieces are intricately carved, while an Islamic influence is obvious in geometric ornamentation. English colonial items have a more Western look.
Casalife (#170, 416-922-2785, casalife.com) was one of the LMB's first tenants, and one and a half years ago owner Rob Whitfield expanded into a second location a few storefronts west that he called C2 Home (#161). The second shop's concept has been rethought for fall: it will continue to sell the modern classic, small-space-friendly furniture and accessories that have earned Casalife its top spot on every micro-condo decorator's shopping list, but will focus on pieces that are always in stock or can be quickly shipped (usually in two to four weeks).
David Anderson and daughter Shauna (above) offer vibrant goods from India at Haveli Home.
Photo By Ethan Eisenberhg
Goods are always in stock at Rob Whitfield's C2 Home.
Also on the home front is the new Green Design Studio (#104, 416-538-0326, greendesignstudio.ca), a one-stop shop for eco-aware housewares and building supply hunters, and Suzanne Gardner Flowers (#157, 416-530-0065, suzannegardnerflowers.com), where the designer arranges naturally chic blooms and bouquets.
Liberty Village isn't limited to this single block, though. The Toy Factory building's Balzac's coffee spot (43 Hanna, 416-534-7372, balzacscoffee.com) rivals its Distillery District location when it comes to creating that Old World European café vibe.
Photo By Ethan Eisenberhg
Check out chic blooms at Suzanne Gardner Flowers.
Since 1991, pool players have been breaking on the gorgeous billiard tables at the Academy of Spherical Arts (1 Snooker, 416-532-2782, sphericalarts.com). Other local favourite dinner and snack spots include the Roastery (8 Pardee, 416-531-7744, theroasterycoffee.com), Liberty Café (65 Jefferson, 416-530-0477), Caffino (1185 King West, 416-588-9010, caffino.ca) and Atelier Thuet Bistro Bakery (171 East Liberty, #153, 416-603-2777, atelierthuet.ca).
As the neighbourhood's resident population grows, more amenities are moving in. You can polish up your look at Salon Tocci (171 East Liberty, #114, 416-531-4247, salontocci.com). Work it out at King West Fitness (171 East Liberty, #275, 416-533-5465, kingwestfitness.com) or Danceology (171 East Liberty, #109, 416-588-0111, danceology.org). Balance Integrated Healthcare (171 East Liberty, #110, 416-588-8282, balanceih.com) is a holistic clinic dispensing massage, acupuncture and other naturopathic treatments.
The newest addition to the neighbourhood this fall is West Elm (109 Atlantic, 416-537-0110, westelm.com), a massive furniture and housewares store that's part of the Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn group. You'd think its reputation for global style, budget-friendly pricing and immediate delivery would have nearby retailers worried, but everyone is eagerly awaiting its arrival. That "the more the merrier" spirit is what makes Liberty Village T.O.'s most dynamic neighbourhood on the grow.