The Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) recommends that the Ville-Marie borough approve a real estate project in a heritage sector in the city center, despite the many criticisms from residents of the area.
The OCPM publishes this Tuesday the conclusions of a consultation conducted last year about two regulatory changes that the borough led by Valérie Plante wishes to adopt. One of them is to reduce the maximum height allowed on a section of Sainte-Catherine Street West from 25 to 45 meters in Village Shaughnessy, a heritage site where there are several Victorian-style houses.
This regulatory change aims to allow real estate developer Peter Sergakis, who owns several bars and restaurants as well as thousands of housing units in Montreal, to complete a real estate project near Guy-Concordia metro station. This would require the destruction of three commercial buildings to erect three towers, the highest of which would have 15 floors. In all, 198 rental units could be built there.
Several organizations approved this project during the public consultation. Groups representing the business community have particularly welcomed the possibility that this development will have positive economic repercussions for businesses on Sainte-Catherine Street West, which are hit hard by the pandemic.
Organizations such as Heritage Montreal and the Jacques-Viger committee have also welcomed the fact that the developer intends to keep the facade of the George-Young house, built in 1870, and include it in his real estate project. The latter also provides for the development of a roof and green terraces to fight against heat islands.
Housing too small, too expensive
However, this real estate development does not only make people happy, quite the contrary. Several residents and community groups have notably denounced the lack of social housing and the lack of affordable and family housing in the developer’s plans, indicates the OCPM report, that Metro got embargoed.
In fact, nearly 89% of the units planned in this project will be studios or have one bedroom. Only 11% of homes will have two or three bedrooms, which is “insufficient” in the eyes of many.
In addition, no social housing is envisaged. Instead, the promoter offered $ 725,000 to the City so that it could implement it elsewhere. However, the needs in this area are great in the Peter McGill neighborhood, where more than 40% of residents live below the poverty line, the report said.
The CIUSSS du Center-Ouest de l’Île de Montréal, which took part in this consultation, qualifies squarely the financial compensation proposed by Mr. Sergakis as “additional snub to repeated requests from the community to have a construction, in situ, social housing ”.
“It is certain that a contribution of $ 725,000 does not allow the construction of social housing in the city center”, also notes the president of the OCPM, Dominique Ollivier, in an interview on Monday.
The developer also anticipates that 27 units will be offered at an “affordable” price, slightly below the market. However, the average rent in this sector is over $ 1,100, according to the Peter-McGill Neighborhood Table. Organizations and residents therefore fear that these 27 housing units will “not be accessible to a large population in need”.
On the other hand, citizens raised fears about the nuisance generated by this site, producing dust and noise. They also fear that the arrival of many residents in the neighborhood will harm their “privacy” and the “tranquility” of the area in the long term, we can read.
“The need for diversity in the housing supply has led several stakeholders to want the real estate project to include more larger apartments, affordable housing, and even social housing.” -Extract from the OCPM report
The OCPM supports the project, with caveats
Following this consultation, the OCPM finally decided to recommend that the city and the borough support the project. However, the organization proposes that the developer increase from 11 to 20% the number of homes from two to three bedrooms that it plans to build.
“The housing offer that is offered [par le promoteur] does not meet the needs of the neighborhood, ”says Ms. Ollivier.
The OCPM also recommends that some of the larger apartments fall into the “affordable” housing category. To this end, he proposed that the borough enter into an agreement with the developer based on the by-law for a mixed metropolis, which will come into force on April 1.
On the other hand, the organization proposes to include electric charging stations in the underground parking of 94 places envisaged on this site.
This report will be debated during the next city council meeting on February 22. The Ville-Marie borough will look into it later.