Pros and cons of new giant condo project downtown Montreal
New giant condo project downtown Montreal – The announcement last week of two towers to be built in the area of the Quartier des spectacles was certainly a significant one: the site that once occupied the Spectrum at the corner of Ste. Catherine and Bleury Streets have been empty for a number of years since the old theatre was demolished. The project involves the construction of two buildings, 51 and 53-story high respectively, with a walkway linking the two at the 25th level which could also serve as a prime location to watch events at the Quartier des spectacles, such as the Jazz Festival. A total of 1,000 condo units and 500 rental units will be located in the complex, the residential areas will count with the usual amenities of such structures: swimming pools, exercise room, and an extended lobby, commercial space will be located at street level.
The company behind the project is Devimco, whose Immobilier President Serge Goulet indicated that “With this landmark project, we intend to maintain the Devimco tradition of creating a living environment with mixed uses that will serve project residents as well as visitors to this highly popular part of Montréal.” Other partners in the proposed venture are the Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ, Fiera Properties, and the architectural firm Lemay, Maestria.
As usual with projects like this, there have been conflicting reactions to it, as well as some non-committal responses from city officials, the project still has to be approved by the Ville-Marie Borough. Of course, the fact that finally that vacant piece of land will be occupied and for what seems to be an architecturally interesting structure is welcomed. The main concern is the size of the project itself, at a time when people react with some apprehension regarding such tall buildings. Definitely, the days when one felt pride for the skyscrapers that dotted the city’s downtown have given way to a more cautious attitude: so many people, so many cars, what will the effect on traffic in the area be. In other words, the project will densify the neighbourhood. Densification has a dual characteristic, it is a good thing for downtown because it means more people living there and therefore contributing to the vitality of the whole area, it is also good for businesses in the neighbourhood. However, it may be a bad thing if instead of relying on public transportation the new dwellers bring with them more cars to an area where circulation is already complicated (Ste. Catherine is closed to traffic in the summer months, more cars would overload the adjacent streets). Some other objections such as the claim that the tall towers will block sunlight on the Place des Festivals are more trivial: in fact, for spectators having some relief from the heating sun during the Jazz Festival should be welcomed.
Ultimately, the project may be seen as an interesting contribution to the area, but the developer must undoubtedly be aware that the city or the borough may ask for modifications after consultations with the stakeholders in the sector take place. That is also part of the democratic process when considering projects of such magnitude and potential impact.