Downtown condos that look and feel like the cottage

Amid booming vacation-property sales, developers are finding ways to make urban condos feel like getaways by the lake

Adam Bisby, Special to National Post Publishing date:May 05, 2021

Residents of the Queen & Ashbridge Condos won’t have to brave a packed Ontario highway if it’s cottage-country vibes they’re after.

Slated for completion in 2024, the 17-storey Leslieville project by Context Development and Riocan Living will be home to a central courtyard dubbed the Urban Forest, surrounded by a Cottage Collection of one- and two-bedroom suites. “As COVID began to take effect, and as more people started talking about getting away, we pivoted to bring a little Muskoka to the big city,” Context principal Howard Cohen explains.

That woodsy aesthetic will extend to the 103 Cottage Collection suites surrounding the Urban Forest, which according to Cohen are 95 percent sold. Designed by Toronto’s Mason Studios, they include an upgrade package featuring custom millwork and electric fireplaces and wood-inspired tile feature walls.

“Combine that [aesthetic] with all the nearby recreational opportunities at Ashbridges Bay [and] Woodbine Park,” says Cohen, “and this is a great option for people who love the outdoorsy cottage lifestyle and want to keep it going even when they’re in the city.”

As rising prices and bidding wars in cottage country put vacation properties out of many buyers’ reach, it isn’t surprising that developers are importing a dockside atmosphere to urban sites. While average GTA housing prices in March jumped 16.5 percent year-over-year, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association, those increases were even higher in cottage country: 33.3 percent in Grey Bruce Owen Sound, 42.2 percent in the Lakelands region comprising Muskoka, Halliburton, Parry Sound and Orillia, and a whopping 44.9 percent in Kawartha Lakes.

Among urban properties, those “where you can walk or bike down to a beach or lakefront park are really in high demand,” says RE/MAX Realtron general manager and broker Cameron Forbes. “COVID-19 has really reinforced a live-at-home, work-at-home, play-at-home mentality, so we are definitely selling more properties that are closer to the water, green spaces, golf courses and things that people can do with their families in a safe way.”

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April Showers bring May flowers and May brings us The Loft Collection at Queen Ashbridge! Inspired by the urban fabric of Queen Street, The Loft Collection is a limited time release of new open concept loft plans.

As a special promotion, The Loft Collection features one year property tax-free and free maintenance as well as an Urban Finish Upgrade package worth $20,000. Features include exposed concrete ceilings, chimney style hoods, floating shelves, custom millwork and tiled feature walls.

The Loft Collection promotion is only here for the month of May so don’t hesitate to contact our sales team for more information on Queen Street’s coolest new digs.

Don’t miss this opportunity to be able to purchase a new town home in the New Lawrence Heights! The town homes feature up to 2700 square feet of total living space, 4 bedrooms, the latest appliances and finishes and luxurious kitchens and baths.

There are only a select few town homes still available in Toronto’s most dynamic new community.

Enjoy a truly striking collection of innovative new home designs surrounded by the best North Toronto has to offer. Live moments from world-renowned Yorkdale Shopping Centre, celebrated public & private schools, lush parks & greenspaces and luxurious lifestyle amenities. What’s more, enjoy convenient access to the future LRT, GO Transit, Yorkdale & Lawrence West Subway Stations, the Allen Expressway and highways 400, 401 & 407.

Visit for more information!

The Cottage Collection at Queen & Ashbridge Condominiums is the newest release at Toronto’s hottest selling Condominium. The Cottage Collection overlooks The Urban Forest: Queen & Ashbridge’s Muskoka inspired courtyard and is a exclusive collection of 1 and 2 bedroom suites.

For a limited time only (until April 11, 2021), The Cottage Collection release features: 2 Years Free Maintenance, 2 Years Free Property Tax, Free Assignment, Capped Development Charges and an Upgrade Package of Finishes worth $20,000.00.

The Upgrade Package of Finishes includes: custom wood millwork and electric fireplaces in the living rooms, custom wood-Inspired feature walls in the main bedroom and wood-inspired tile feature walls in the ensuites.

For more information, go to or contact the condo presentation gallery today!

The Urban Forest
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At the heart of Queen & Ashbridge Condominiums, is the The Urban Forest. Designed by landscape architect Liz Wreford of Public City Architecture, The Urban Forest brings a little Muskoka to the big city and occupies Queen & Ashbridge’s central courtyard.

Inspired by the landscape of Northern Ontario, The Urban Forest includes a sloped stone sun deck (the shore or the beach), wood boardwalks, a fire pit (the cove), a raised deck (the dock) overlooking a reflecting pool (the lake), a mixed coniferous/deciduous forest with rolling forest floor (the forest) and gravel paths through the forest.

Tall poles in the deck make reference to sail boat masts and the elements are tied together with a colourful ribbon of steel, creating many seating opportunities along the forest edge and around the sunken fire pit. Uplighting around the reflecting pool and in the forest understory creates a dynamic night environment. The forest is a mix of pine, fir and birch with native understory plants.

Those lucky enough to have a suite facing into The Urban Forest will be ensconced in nature year round and enjoy a little slice of cottage living from their balcony. Stay tuned for our next blog post where we feature The Cottage Collection – a new release of suites that overlook The Urban Forest!

One of the hallmarks of Queen & Ashbridge Condominiums is the over the top amenities on offer. Here, we take you on a journey to explore these laid back, luxe spaces.

The Bridge Lounge

The first space to greet you is the lobby, or as we call it, The Bridge Lounge and it marks the beginning of your journey home. It will guide you onto a boardwalk inspired pathway to The Upper Lounge that features inspiring views of the surrounding park land where residents are encouraged to linger over coffee for a moment, a minute or maybe an afternoon!

The Upper Lounge

Next stop is the Coast Club – a 5,000 square foot, state-of-the-art fitness centre featuring double height ceilings, green feature walls and dynamic park views. This monument to healthy living kicks Queen & Ashbridge’s laidback aesthetic into high gear, spinning it into something more energetic. Ample cardio, strength and functional training zones and dedicated yoga and spin studios complete the picture. Afterwards, relax in the spa like steam rooms.

The Coast Club
The Spin Studio
The Steam Room

Past the The Upper Lounge and The Coast Club is The Woodbine Coworking Space. Featuring double-height ceilings and towering windows with green views, The Woodbine Coworking Space has both communal and private working and lounge spaces and is anchored by a large fireplace.

The Woodbine Coworking Space

The space is designed to accentuate streetscape views and allow in ample daylight to help illuminate your thinking. And if the ideas aren’t flowing, the layered, linear interior also makes for a pleasant space in which to accept your writer’s block.

From here, jump on an elevator and head to the roof top to the The Sky Club for a sunset cocktail. The Sky Club is a private gathering space to rival the city’s breathtaking best. Think members only social club or boutique restaurant, but without the waitlist. The nightly show starts just before the sun sets on the downtown Toronto skyline. The chic bar, fireside lounge and cozy reading nook offer ample perches from which to watch it. Journey to The Sky Club for an introspective evening alone or an intimate gathering with friends.

The Sky Club – Bar & Lounge
The Sky Club – Private

Just beyond The Sky Club’s picture windows lies its outdoor terrace. Two distinct spaces for smaller gatherings can be instantly converted into one, meaning your get-together is limited only by your imagination. At the North end of The Sky Club’s terrace, the views and sounds of Queen Street make for the perfect sunbathing backdrop and soundtrack. To the West, an uninterrupted downtown Toronto skyline delivers urban ambiance. Fire up the BBQ and combine cocktails and canapés to complete the scene.

The Sky Club Roof Terrace

Neighbourhoods don’t come much friendlier to the four legged than Coastal Queen East, but if your sidekick needs to burn off a little midday energy, you may opt to skip the park and head out to the roof top dog run. Dogs will appreciate the ample green space; you’ll appreciate the views.

The Dog Run
The Sky Club Roof Terrace and The Dog Run

In addition to these outstanding amenities, visitors to Queen & Ashbridge will be well taken care of in the 7 guest suites, which raise the bar for accommodations to built-in boutique hotel heights. All communal amenities are professionally managed with an elevated level of service and programming by our dedicated on-site property management team.

For more on Queen & Ashbridge, visit

Check out “Big Payday Awaits Investors at Q&A Condos” in the latest edition of Canadian Real Estate Wealth!

Big Payday Awaits Investors at Q&A Condos

By Neil Sharma – December 29, 2020

Queen & Ashbridge Condos has managed to distinguish itself from Toronto’s staidly designed condominium stock by harnessing the potential both within and without the building, and attracting robust end user interest in the process.

Located in the Beaches, the building’s Queen St. E. frontage offers residents value-boosting streetcar service, hundreds of restaurants, bars and boutique shops along the celebrated street, and the most access to nature anywhere in Toronto.

“The Nos. 1 and 2 amenities are Lake Ontario and the largest expanse of green open space in all of the GTA,” Howard Cohen, president of Context Development, Q&A’s co-developer, told CREW. “Woodbine Park, Woodbine Beach, Ashbridges Bay and Pump House Park are next to Q&A, so it’s really amazing the amount of green open space we have there, and we’re immediately north of Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club.”

The Beaches has been one of Toronto’s most desirable neighbourhoods for the aforesaid reasons long before citywide housing prices began surging a few years ago, and it could also explain why, unlike most Toronto condos that are investor-driven, the overwhelming majority of Q&A’s buyers so far are end users, some of whom have already purchased the more expensive units over $2 million. It’s perhaps for that reason investors would benefit from owning a unit or two at Q&A—Toronto rents haven’t carried condos for a few years, but capital appreciation potential is through the roof—because when the units enter the resale market, end users will pay a premium that other investors won’t.

“It’s unusual for end users to buy preconstruction because they have to wait about four years to move in, but that Q&A is getting huge interest from end users tells an investor something powerful,” said Cohen. “When they put a downtown unit on the resale market, they get a huge amount of competition, because probably 95% of downtown towers are bought by investors, so everyone living in it is a tenant. Our building will probably be half and half, and with more end users there’s more value, especially on the resale market, because an investor likely won’t sell a Q&A unit to another investor, they will sell it to an end user, and end user-driven buildings are taken care of better. You see that with downtown condo boards that only want to keep the fees down as opposed to maintaining the building.”

Dil Bhanga, a broker with Royal LePage Flower City Realty, says buildings with high end user contingents last much longer than investor-driven buildings, which run the risk of falling into disrepair faster than they should.

“End users take care of the condo more than investors, who just want rent and low overhead,” he said. “End users always monitor the condo corporation and status certificate to make that anything to do with maintenance is taken care of.”

Cohen added that, unlike the downtown towers every real estate broker in Toronto brings their investor clients to, clued in brokers have been bringing their clients to Q&A, which is being co-developed by RioCan Living, since it launched a couple of months ago.

“Housing prices in the Beaches are through the roof. We’re finding it’s the brokers who know this part of Toronto, as opposed to the cookie cutters downtown, who are bringing us the most buyers as investors.”

The 17-storey, 360-unit U-shaped development, which incorporates geothermal energy to keep utility costs low, will feature a 5,000 sq ft state-of-the-art fitness centre equipped with a yoga studio, spa and steam saunas, co-working space for residents, a rooftop party room and lounge with a capacious outdoor terrace that has cooking and dining areas, and a courtyard for residents.

“There’s also a dog run and a dog washing station, and we’ve been getting a really good response to that,” said Cohen. “Our architect [Teeple Architects] came up with a building configuration that looks a little like a pyramid in its genesis, and on the skyline it’s going to be pretty exciting. Because of the way the building is shaped and modelled, it’s created a really beautiful courtyard that’s a private park for people who live in the building, which some of the units overlook, and which we think of as an urban forest.”

As 2020 draws to a close (thank goodness!) we are pleased to give you the final construction update of the year for Yorkdale Condos (Phase 2/Second Tower).

The roof has now been completed and the precast panels and windows are being installed on the upper floors. 

On the lower floors the exterior walls are being framed and insulated.  Elevators equipment is on site and they will be starting to install this soon.

In closing out this long year, we wish everyone involced with The Yorkdale Condos a Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! See you in 2021!

Between the boardwalks of The Beaches & the red bricks of Leslieville, beyond the shores of Ashbridge’s Bay and the skyscrapers of downtown, lies Queen & Ashbridge; a unique icon in the heart of Coastal Queen East.

For regular updates on Queen & Ashbridge and beautiful photos of the surrounding area, we invite you to visit us on Instagram @qa_condos

The Ashbridge Estate – It’a beautiful day in the neighbourhood
We’re Open! Book a Preview Appointment at The Presentation Centre – (416) 699-5005.
Leuty Lifeguard Station – circa 1920
Loving the new 30-foot Beach mural by Toronto artist
A scenic bike path along The Beaches
Queen & Ashbridge Condominiums “is destined to change the city’s East end for the better. Wonderful architecture and amazing street presence.”  @wearedesignstor
An early morning on The Beach
Beautiful colours of red, orange and yellow throughout the Beaches.  
“In days of yore, on Leslieville shore, put down your phone and daydream under a Maple Tree” pays homage to the past, present & future of Leslieville by depicting a typical Leslievillian, contemplating the future, while resting under a giant maple tree. By artist Elicser Elliot
West view from Queen & Ashbridge Condominiums

This weekend’s Toronto Star Homes section is featuring Queen & Ashbirdge as its cover story! Here is a sneak peak.

By Carola Vyhnak Special to the StarWed., Sept. 30, 2020

There are two sides to this condominium story: one facing the venerable thoroughfare of Queen St. E., the other overlooking Ashbridges Bay and Lake Ontario on Eastern Ave.

Bordered by two streets on a deep lot, Queen & Ashbridge Condominiums in Toronto’s east end offered an opportunity for a “pretty unique architectural response,” said architect Stephen Teeple.

The result is a 17-storey pyramidal complex rising from the site like “a timeless, sun-washed hill-town” evocative of the Greek island of Santorini, he said.

“That it has both water and Queen St is really enticing,” noted developer Howard Cohen, co-founder of Context, which has partnered with RioCan Living on the project.

Cohen expects Queen & Ashbridge Condos, just west of Coxwell Ave., to become a landmark in the city’s newest old neighbourhood, “Coastal Queen East.” The name — so far just a marketing moniker — defines the area that links the neighbourhood of Leslieville and The Beach.

“It’s almost a bit undiscovered in a way,” said Cohen, who’s hoping to put Coastal Queen East on the map with the delivery of the development in about four years.

A large fitness centre will offer a variety of studios and zones for training, yoga and spinning.

With 366 condo suites, about 185 rental apartments and must-haves of abundant green space and outdoor entertainment areas — in demand due to COVID-19, according to Cohen — it’s the kind of place where everyone from youngsters to young professionals and empty nesters will feel at home.

With the most parkland per capita in Toronto, the area lends itself to activities for all ages, he said, listing jogging, cycling, swimming, sailing, skateboarding and “promenading.”

Although moving day may be years off for Dawn Chapman, she can already see herself rollerblading on the boardwalk and cycling to the Leslie Street Spit.

The building's south side, on Eastern Ave., will be a tiered design. Its west wing will include condo suites and its east wing will have rental apartments.

The Upper Beaches resident is considering the purchase of a two-bedroom unit for her parents, who now live in Brampton, so they can be closer. Eventually, Chapman and her husband James would live there after their kids, now aged 13 and 15, leave home.

“What I love about Q&A Condos’ location is the feeling of openness … the green space and walking along the beach near the water,” said Chapman. “It’s the fabulous feeling of a countryside as opposed to (being) locked in a concrete jungle,” said the long-time east-ender.

At the same time, the condos are close to restaurants, schools, businesses and specialty shops, the Queen St. streetcar, Ashbridge’s Bay and Woodbine Beach.

The north side of Queen & Ashbridge Condominiums will front onto Queen St. E. and have a more traditional urban fa�ade with retail stores at the base of an eight-storey podium connecting the building's two wings.

Chapman, proprietor of Lazy Daisy’s Café on Gerrard St. E. — a café and general store specializing in fresh, local food — is excited about the business prospects with the arrival of new residents. (She named her shop after a dairy cow on her grandparents’ farm where she spent summers as a child.)

As well as new residents, dogs will be welcomed at the building where a rooftop dog run is among the amenities.

“It’s important for dogs to have a nice view of people shopping on Queen St.,” Cohen joked.

With suites ranging from 503 to 1,843 square feet and prices starting in the mid-$500,000s, he expects purchasers to include a “big move-down component” from Beach folks.

“You can sell your house, buy a condo and still have money in the bank,” noted Cohen, whose 27-year-old company focuses on mixed-use projects, condominiums and affordable rental housing.

With its two fronts, the building presents different façades to fit the surroundings, according to Teeple, principal at Teeple Architects. On the “vibrant lakefront” side, it looks like a “modern white sculpture” while on Queen, where its 16,000 square feet of retail space meets the street, it adopts a more traditional urban façade, he said.

The structure is designed in two wings joined by an eight-storey podium. The 16-storey east side comprises mostly rental units while the 17-storey west wing houses condos of one to three bedrooms, including penthouse-calibre suites that boast the best views of the lake and skyline.

Balconies on the south side of the 17-storey condo building will overlook parkland, Ashbridges Bay and Lake Ontario.

The tiered design allows “extremely large terraces,” adding to the suites’ allotment of indoor/outdoor space, said Teeple.

The development’s south-facing Eastern Ave. front, a landscaped courtyard called The Valley will have a private park and garden plots for residents to grow their own food. On the Queen St. side, an eighth-floor rooftop offers a terrace for lounging and dining, and access to indoor amenities.

A 5,000 fitness centre will provides everything from spin and yoga studios to training zones and steam saunas. “It’s the best fitness centre we’ve ever done in a complex,” Cohen said. There’s also a ground-floor co-working lounge catering to the work-from-home cohort.

Cohen also points to the development’s “high sustainability rating” and reduced carbon footprint due to energy-saving mechanical systems, geothermal energy, abundance of greenery and natural building materials. As well, it will have an energy recovery ventilation system.

Carola Vyhnak is a Cobourg-based writer covering home and real-estate stories. She is a contributor for the Star. Reach her at

Queen & Ashbridge Condos

Developer: Context and RioCan Living

Location: 1555 and 1575 Queen St. E.

Architect:Teeple Architects; Landscape architect: Public City Architecture; Interior designer: Mason Studio

Suites: 366 condo units from 503 to 1,843 sq.-ft. One-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom layouts, some with den, starting in the mid-$500,000s

Amenities: 5,000-sq.-ft. fitness centre with training zones, spin and yoga studios; rooftop party room, lounge and outdoor terrace with dining and cooking zones; rooftop dog run; landscaped courtyard and garden plots; co-working lounge

Tentative occupancy: Fall 2024

Info: register at or email