From the big screen to condominium suites at Capitol Residences
A new landmark arrived in Midtown Toronto in 1914 when the 1,300-seat York Theater was built on Yonge Street at the corner of Castlefield Avenue.
The theater hosted vaudeville performances and silent films until 1922, when a three-story building, new entrance, and balcony were constructed and it was adapted for exclusively screened films. Its transformation represented the work of architect Murray Brown, who designed Famous Players theaters across Canada, and it was renamed the Capitol Theater.
Now, a century later, the rich history of the historic Capitol Theater will be incorporated into yet another transformation as the site of the Capitol Residences, a mixed-use residential condominium project by Madison Group. The design will retain the original 20th century neoclassical facade and stainless steel art deco marquee of the theater, restore the entrance and interior vestibule, and reconstruct the theater space.
Indi Miskolczi, who now lives in Peterborough, remembers the hustle and bustle at the Old Theater vividly on June 12, 1981. Then, a student at the Ontario College of Art, Miskolczi took public transit to Midtown, did lined up under the Capitol marquee, followed the queue through the ornate lobby and took a seat in the sold-out theater. It was then that she first met another “Indy” – Harrison Ford’s character Indiana Jones.
“I remember the high ceilings and the tall chandeliers,” she said, observing the details of the theater until the lights went down. “And that night, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ became one of my all-time favorite movies.”
Thousands of other Torontonians have similar fond memories of the Capitol, which at first kept things friendly with the Laura Secord store next door by not offering treats and treats. In 1998, after being saved from demolition and after a $ 2 million renovation, the Capitol became an upscale event venue until it closed for good shortly thereafter.
“This site is located in an incredible location with the best of the city and the country,” said Josh Zagdanski, vice president of tours at Madison Group. “It’s in the middle of Yonge North Village which has all of these wonderful shops and restaurants. It’s close to all the action of Yonge Street but far enough away to feel like part of the neighborhood. It’s a perfect balance and that’s why it’s unique.
The property did not have a heritage designation when Madison purchased it. However, as the development team progressed through the approval process, they agreed with the city that they should have a conservation plan.
“Over time and during the last decades of the 20th century to the present day, the building has grown into a significant complex which has maintained and supported the commercial character of the street,” said Emad Ghattas, Senior Associate Architect at GBCA Architects, the company that takes care of the heritage aspects of the project. Hariri Pontarini Architects and Turner Fleischer Architects designed the new multi-level building in a style that harmonizes with the heritage of sand-cast brick and light stone.
The Capitol canopy and storefronts that adorn the entrance are important elements, and plans include restoring the appearance of the streetscape to its 1937 style. The current canopy is a modification, Ghattas said, and has been stripped of some of its design features. “We propose to bring some of that excitement to the streetscape and are working with a lighting consultant on that part, as lighting is an important part of this project.”
Zagdanski said initiatives for the heritage facade include retail outlets and the theater itself will always be accessible to the public in one form or another, such as a restaurant or a theater. A new park, designed and built by the city and with a financial contribution from the developers, will cover almost an acre and replace the old parking lot at the back of the building.
“What’s great about (the theater) is that it has had its ups and downs over the years, but it has always been a place of community and gathering,” Zagdanski said.
“Our team felt a great obligation that the new project reinvent it as a place of community, a place of gathering. It was a real treat for us.
The condominium tower will rise behind the facade, with a series of ascending landscaped terraces and oversized balconies. Zagdanski said the residential structure will include larger units with 10-foot ceilings and dens that can be closed for working from home. There will be 145 units in all, with one, two and three bedroom plans.
“We expect that we will get buyers from the surrounding communities and the neighborhood. It’s about increasing the lifespan, not reducing the workforce, ”Zagdanski said. “These people want to move from their current home to a more urban lifestyle, but also a luxury lifestyle, and don’t want to lose anything in the transition.”
Madison Group consulted with local residents, the BIA and the city councilor, and Zagdanski said the comments helped inform the design and layouts. He added that the redevelopment of Capitol Residences reflects municipal government goals for the North Yonge Village section: “The city is not looking for towers here. The intention is to create a more intimate building and we helped create that. It looks and feels good for the neighborhood, is close to neighborhood shops and restaurants, very close to public transportation, and will have all amenities. The building has a Walk Score of 90 and a Transit Score of 87.
These amenities will include an upscale fitness center, golf simulator, lounge / bar, party room, children’s playroom, and outdoor recreation area with dining areas and barbecues.
Alessandro Munge, director of Studio Munge specializing in luxury hospitality, catering and residential design, took inspiration from the history of the theater for the Capitol residences for interior spaces, Zagdanski said. “The design is very organic and has had its history at the Capitol Theater. Alessandro took it, ran with it and made it exceptional. The influence of the theater will be evident in the porte-cochere and the grand entrance which recalls the heyday of cinemas with oxblood marble floors and walnut wood paneling. In addition, the children’s room will have a theater stage.
“Honestly, we are very excited about this project,” Zagdanski said.
THE CAPITOL’S RESIDENCES
Site: 2492 Yonge Street, Toronto
Developer: Madison Group
Architects: Hariri Pontarini Architects and Turner Fleischer Architects; heritage consultants GBCA Architects
Interior design : Studio Munge
Suites: 145 units in a 14-storey mixed-use building. One, two or three bedroom units with boudoir up to 3,000 square feet and more. From $ 1 million. Provisional occupation July 2025.
Building fittings: Fitness center, golf simulator, lounge / bar area, party room, children’s playroom with stage and outdoor leisure area with dining areas and barbecues
Contact: lesrésidencesde la Capitale.ca