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Let in the light

Exchange District condos grace 100-year-old warehouse

Pricing for Loftworks will be in the $300,000 to $350,000 range, with condo fees coming in at approximately $250 a month.

If you're looking for a condominium in the Exchange District that combines character with location, then you might want to have a look at Loftworks.

Located at 128 James Avenue, Loftworks is the brainchild of structural engineer Kurtis Sawatzky, who discovered the century-old warehouse a couple of years ago.

"The previous owner hired me to do a structural assessment of the building," he recalled. "What I found was extremely exciting -- a 100-year-old building that was in spectacular shape. It was so solid that I wanted to buy it on the spot."

Eventually, Sawatzky bought it in May 2010. From that point on, it was a matter of getting permits and designing floor plans, all in an effort to turn an historic building into a unique, well-finished condominium complex.

"Construction actually started in March 2011," said Sawatzky. "Things have been going well, so we expect the units to all be finished by the end of January."

The end product (for the time being, at least) will be 10 residential condominiums -- nine two-bedroom units, plus a single one-bedroom unit -- that will take up the top three floors. The ground-level floor will be home to offices, including of Sawatzky's engineering company, KNH Sawatzky Associates.

Loftworks -- which will eventually add three floors to the warehouse as well as a new eight-storey building next to the current three-storey, 10-unit warehouse (bringing the total number of units to 90 when all construction is completed) -- isn't going to be an ordinary condominium development for a number of reasons, said the Urban Realtor, Bill Thiessen.

"The 10 units -- which will include nine two-bedroom suites plus one one-bedroom unit -- will come out to an average size of about 1,050 square feet," he said. "Because the building is long and narrow, there'll be a limited number of suites per floor. Floor plans will be open-concept, with a great room design including kitchen, dining room and living room. Ceilings will be high, with heavy timber columns and beams. Kurtis also retained as much of the original brick as he could, too."

Perhaps the most notable feature of the suites will be all the daylight that floods in, said Sawatzky.

"Units on the north side will have exceptionally big windows to let in as much light as possible, while the south side will have smaller windows; all windows will be tri-pane low-e argon fibreglass units that will not provide a high degree of soundproofing, but will help keep energy consumption down, as well. In total, six suites will face north, while four will face south."

Thiessen added that all the glass won't be confined to the suites' great-room areas.

"I think it's extremely important to note that there will also be big windows in the bedrooms, too," he said. "That's quite unique for warehouse-style condominiums, where bedrooms often are just left as dark spaces. Each bedroom at Loftworks will have a real window. They'll be nice and bright, not dungeon-like."

As for finishing materials, they also promise to be top-notch.

"They will all be high-end, from the engineered hardwoods to the commercial-grade (espresso) cabinets by Innovative Millwork. Kitchens (island or peninsula) will come with brown arborite counter tops, tile backsplashes along with a breakfast bar with pendant lighting. There will be high-grade vinyl flooring in the kitchen, bath and laundry areas and carpeting in the bedrooms," said Sawatzky.

Sawatzky said he designed the suites as if he was going to live in one himself.

"I tried to put in a lot of small, yet significant features -- four-panel embossed doors with pewter handles, wide baseboards (by Innovative Millworks) and lots of storage. There will be walk-in closets and double closets, a 10-foot entrance closet, even a big kitchen pantry. Suites will also come equipped with full-size washers and dryers (vented to the outside), central air and their own hot water tanks. The heat source will be electric."

Discerning buyers are bound to appreciate Loftworks, said Thiessen.

"The people who buy with us are going to be detail-oriented people who appreciate quality and character, and who are intending to live there a long time," he said. "They're also buying for the location, which is incredible. You're literally 150 feet from Waterfront Drive in a character warehouse by the Red River -- and all the amenities (The Forks, MTS Centre, Esplanade Riel, Stephen Juba Park and Shaw Park, home of the Goldeyes) that come with living in the Exchange District."

Pricing for Loftworks will be in the $300,000 to $350,000 range, with condominium fees coming in at approximately $250 a month, said Thiessen.

For more information on Loftworks, call Bill Thiessen at 255-4204 or 946-5638.

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