For a "Family Estate Within the City", Torontonians Turn to the Bridle Path
Toronto certainly has its share of posh, exclusive neighborhoods, but none compares to the Bridle Path.
Homes in the neighborhood command top prices and attract a clientele from around the world. Called “Millionaire’s Row” in the past, it might be more apt to call it “Billionaire’s Row” now because of the neighborhood’s homes’ constant expansion, according to Paul Maranger and Christian Vermast of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.
Palatial homes line the neighborhood’s three main streets: Park Lane Circle, High Point Road and the Bridle Path. The neighborhood get its name from the latter, which recalls the area’s early 20th century origins.
The Bridle Path was originally developed by E.P. Taylor, a businessman with a love of horses. He had a vision of creating a neighborhood with large roads for scenic horseback riding, explained Jimmy Molloy, of Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited-Christie’s International Real Estate.
Today, the Bridle Path’s lots offer natural beauty, seclusion and privacy and ample space for the neighborhood’s massive, elegant estates, all just 30 minutes from downtown Toronto.
The Bridle Path is bounded by Bayview Avenue to the west and Lawrence Avenue to the south. Located in the Don River Valley, Wilket Creek and Winfields Park form natural boundaries to the east and north, respectively.
Homes in the Bridle Path can start at C$10 million or C$11 million (US$7.68 million or US$8.44 million), but that would be for land value or a tear-down. Most homes average around C$13 million (US$10 million), according to Anita Springate-Renaud, owner of Engel & Völkers Toronto Central.
In August 2016, a home in the neighborhood sold for a record-breaking C$22 million (US$17 million), Ms. Springate-Renaud said.
Mr. Maranger noted that Bridle Path has seen listing prices as high as C$25 million (US$19.2 million).
For average homes, listed between C$12 million and C$15 million (US$9.2 million and US$11.5 million), Mr. Maranger said that buyers can expect around 15,000 square feet of above-grade living space.
“Most of the houses—the vast, vast majority— have indoor pools, many have tennis courts, movie theaters,” said Christian Vermast, also of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.
This French provincial chateau-styled mansion in the Bridle Path is currently asking for $17.8 million. Homes and Land
There are no apartments or condos in the Bridle Path, which is instead filled with estate-like properties, almost all of them gated or walled, sitting on lots of a minimum of two acres, otherwise nearly unheard-of in a capital city like Toronto.
In the 1960s, homes in the Bridle Path were massive bungalows, for the most part. The 1970s saw many of them replaced with chateau-style mansions, a trend that has continued on an increasingly lavish scale over the course of the past few decades.
“Like in many Toronto neighborhoods, there’s been a real renaissance where older houses built in the ’50s and early ’60s are just not functional for how people live today,” Mr. Molloy said. He added that few older homes remain: “Everything has been torn down and rebuilt on a grand scale. The Bridle Path attracts families who want to create resort-style living, a family estate within the city.”
“What we’re seeing today is more contemporary, sleek architecture, recalling mid-century styles,” Mr. Maranger said.
Mr. Molloy noted that many of the homes are “beautifully tailored Georgians, neoclassical, or modern,” while the “majority slant towards French provincial chateaux.”
Interior of a French provincial chateau in the Briddle Path.
Homes and Land
Common amenities buyers can expect to find include indoor pools, tennis courts, indoor basketball courts, hockey rinks, home theaters, and wine cellars, according to John Genereaux, also of Engel & Völkers Toronto Central.
“Every house is completely custom, unique, and represents the owner’s taste and lifestyle,” Mr. Vermast said, adding that “in its own way, it’s an eccentric neighborhood.”
The home at Bridle Path under construction
SimonP / Wikimedia
What Makes it Unique
Brokers agree that the Bridle Path’s greatest attraction is its natural beauty. There are “Beverly Hills-esque mansions on stupefying plots of land,” according to Mr. Maranger.
As opposed to homes in other exclusive Toronto neighborhoods, the sprawling estates in the Bridle Path, nearly all walled and gated, sit on lots specifically designed to afford privacy and to take advantage of the beautiful landscape of the Don River Valley.
The Granite Club, a large, premier athletic country club located on Bayview Avenue, right next to the Bridle Path, offers swimming, golfing, squash, tennis, badminton, and skating facilities, as well as dining and events services.
The Bridle Path is also 10 minutes from the Rosedale Golf Club, “a golf course in a beautiful ravine, which continues into the Bridle Path area,” Mr. Molloy said.
Upscale shopping options such as Michael Kors, Stuart Weitzman and Coach, as well as smaller boutiques like Mendocino are nearby at Bayview Village, the Shops at Don Mills, and York Mills Plaza. Dining options, including Auberge du Pommier, Shoushin and North 44 Restaurant, are all just a few minutes’ drive from the Bridle Path.
Several fine schools are located in the Bridle Path, including the Toronto French School, which offers an International Baccalaureate program and serves children between age 2 and high school. The Crescent School, a private school for boys in grades 3 through 12, is also located in the Bridle Path, while Havergal College, an independent school for girls from kindergarten through grade 12, is just a 15-minute drive away.
Who Lives There
The neighborhood is home to many “global citizens with business interests around the world, and the vast majority are entrepreneurs,” Mr. Vermast said.
“The Bridle Path attracts a huge international market,” Mr. Molloy said. “It’s very much a multicultural neighborhood.” He noted that international buyers, including families from Hong Kong, Indian, Iran and Russia, are often looking at homes in the neighborhood because of their sense of privacy and sprawling lots. Although there is a tax on foreign buyers, it can be returned after two years, provided that those buyers can prove they have continuously lived in the home as their primary residence, Ms. Springate-Renaud explained.
The luxurious lifestyle and exceptional privacy the neighborhood affords also attract celebrities such as the likes of Drake, who is currently building a palatial home of his own.
Businessman and TV personality Robert Herjavec, newspaper magnate Conrad Black, and entrepreneur Alex Shnaider have all owned homes in the Bridle Path in recent years, as did Prince.
This five-bedroom, Asian-inspired modern home in the Bridle is currently listed for $15.27 million.
SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY CANADA
Overall, there is a consensus among brokers that the market appears to be stable. A “low number of homes comes on the market, creating low supply and high demand,” Mr. Genereaux said.
Ms. Springate-Renaud pointed out that, although the market has slowed down somewhat, “at this level, what the market does doesn’t impact buyers so much.”
“The Bridle Path is a micro-market in Toronto, relatively untouched by economic turmoil,” Mr. Maranger said. “The Bridle Path is more balanced [between buyer’s and seller’s markets] than the rest of the city.”
With just 11 homes currently on the market, listed between roughly C$7.7 million (US$5.9 million) and nearly C$23 million (US$17.7 million), the Bridle Path holds cachet as an enclave that is as opulent as it is exclusive.