Calling Cobblestone: Take some hints from the Distillery District

One of the most under-utilized neighborhoods in the city is the Cobblestone District. Hampered by the pair of massive arena lots that occupy two of the blocks that make up the area, the District itself is little more than on square block of densely packed buildings.

Once before, I explored some ideas for the Cobblestone District and it was on a relatively big scale. Rather than recycle thoughts from that post, I want to explore how to duplicate the Distillery District in Toronto in the existing structure of the Cobblestone District.

The view of the boarded smith shop (right) and other properties in Cobblestone that are ripe for development.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Distillery District, it is basically a pedestrian-centric neighborhood that occupies a very well-preserved whiskey distillery in Toronto. It is located a short drive from the proper city center and has an interesting mix of gallery space, boutiques and restaurants. The pedestrian-first design is quite popular thanks to the size of Toronto and nearby residential space. In fact, there are a pair of modern, high-rise residential (and mixed-use hotel) developments currently being built in the area. Once those projects are complete, the District will be a historic neighborhood with an industrial feel that serves a number of large populations driven from the new builds in addition to others coming from downtown.

What is truly brilliant about the Distillery District is not only the historical integrity that has been upheld in the core portion of the neighborhood, but the willingness to allow contemporary additions to be made to the area. In fact, a number of the new builds have taken facades and other pieces from former buildings that previously occupied specific locations. To specify (see pictures), this isn’t an adaptive re-use, but a new building basically constructed with some of the bones and skin from the older buildings included. Surely ideas as progressive as this would make such preservation fore-runners like Tim Tielman soil their trousers. Continue reading