Right now, everything is moving in the right direction for Montreal as a whole, in terms of confidence, economic growth and employment.
Cranes crowd the Montreal skyline these days as a strong economy and political stability are fueling a construction frenzy throughout the downtown core and beyond.
But it is not only the cranes that are redefining Montreal’s new skyline. While 210-meter high skyscrapers were nixed by the municipal government under former Mayor Denis Coderre (because nothing can be higher than the mountain, 232 meters in height), they are officially allowed to reach a height of 170 meters high.
This new height regulation will only be allowed on Sainte-Antoine, between de la Montagne and Peel.
Some of the proposed buildings include:
- Le Rocabella: two 40-storey buildings consisting of residential units, a shopping complex, and underground parking. (René-Lévesque b/w Drummond and de la Montagne)
- L’Avenue: 50-storey building, 325 residential units with shops (and possibly offices) on the ground floors. (1275 Canadiens-de-Montreal)
- La Tour des Canadiens-de-Montréal: 48-storey hotel and condo-complex combo, will boast 534 housing units. (1280 avenue des Canadiensde-Montréal)
YUL twin tower and townhouse, a project sponsored by Chinese investors has already launched phase two. Project developer Kheng Ly of Brivia Group Real Estate, who has partnered with China's Tianco Group, said relatively low condo prices and the lack of a foreign buyers’ tax make Montreal an attractive place to invest.
Ly, who arrived in Canada 29 years ago, said the downtown landscape has changed significantly in the past five years. The recent addition of direct flights between China and Montreal have attracted Asian investors who comprise 35 to 40 per cent of condo owners at the project's first phase, he said.
Further evidence of the city's construction boom can be seen along a short stretch to the Bell Centre where towers surrounding the home of the Habs are a symbol of the change that has been sweeping over the city.
A 55-storey glass building that will carry the famed Montreal Canadiens red and white logo has been launched after two previous towers featuring special access to the hockey complex were quickly sold out.
The project is part of a large development of residential and office buildings planned by Cadillac Fairview and its partner Canderel for Quad Windsor, an area near the historic rail station.
The association with one of sports' most storied franchises is modelled after Toronto's Maple Leaf Square and similar approaches in Los Angeles, Dallas and Edmonton.
Montreal trails Toronto and Vancouver in condominium developments partly because of the city's historic preference for rentals. But in recent years, low interest rates, higher disposable income and municipal incentives have made home ownership more affordable and fueled purchases.
In addition to downtown, other thriving areas are Griffintown in the city's old industrial area near the Lachine Canal and pockets of neighborhoods that are undergoing gentrification.
For developers like Quebec pension fund manager Ivanhoe Cambridge's real estate subsidiary, the current environment is the strongest it has seen in a quarter century.
The future looks brighter than it has in a long time for commercial leasing and development in downtown Montreal as well.
Office vacancy rates have been declining as spaces are filled at the highest level in five years and net rental prices are on an upswing. Ivanhoe is officially opening its 27-floor downtown office tower next month, which will house Manulife and Ernst & Young.
A New Pedestrian Walkway
Amid all the condos and office skyscrapers going up in the downtown area, it's also nice to know that pedestrians will also be getting something beneficial in the Quartier des gares building project plan, namely a new pedestrian walkway
L'Avenue des Canadiens will become a no car zone in the proposed plan, with the city modelling the new walkway after Jeanne-Mance in Quartier des Spectacles. The goal is to increase the level of safety for pedestrians around the Bell Centre, while also bettering walking traffic.
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