Now You See it, Now you Don’t


The old Children’s Hospital, which was closed last year, when the new MUHC was opened just up the road at Vendome, has been sitting, empty, vacant, waiting for someone to buy the building, design a plan, and execute that plan.

It seems, we have a plan now …

Courtesy: CTV News Montreal

City council is expected to approve a plan next week to build a half-dozen high rises, a library, a community centre and possibly a school at the site of the former Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Last week the hospital confirmed that Montreal developer Luc Poirier had purchased the building and the land that lies at between Atwater Ave. and Sussex St., and between René Levesque Blvd. and Tupper St. for $25 million.

Poirier sold his interest to Philip Kerub, who along with Devimco, Fiera Capital Corp., and the FTQ’s real estate fund are investing $400 million in the plan to build six buildings that are 20 to 30 storeys tall, and a three-storey building.

Kerub will renovate the three-storey former nurses’ residence that lies at the corner of the lot, and said he will preserve and restore its current envelope. Kerub will also build a tower that will house a hotel, office space, and “high-end condominium units.”

Devimco president Serge Goulet said his company will build the other towers that will include 600 condos, 600 rental units, 160 social and affordable housing units, and a community centre.

The Devimco towers will also include room for stores.

Plans for a school are still being worked out. If a primary school is built, it would be an eighth building on the site, and would decrease the amount of greenspace in the area.

But with close access to the metro and Alexis-Nihon Plaza, developers believe the site is bound to be a hit.

“Location, location, location,” said Brian Fahey of Devimco. “You also have to take into account that we’re going to be respond to demands for people looking for greenspace and community activities.”

The block’s footprint will also expand by removing a section of Lambert Closse St. and incorporating Henri Dunant Park in the northwest corner.

Richard Bergeron, the Executive Committee member in charge of downtown Montreal, said he wants to see a development like this every year for the next 15 years.

“If you look at the objectives of the downtown strategy the goal is to have 50,000 more inhabitants in downtown Montreal from now to 2031. We need to get this objective, to reach this objective, more or less 1,800 new housing units year after year,” said Bergeron.

“If you compare to Toronto, Toronto had 80,000 new inhabitants in the last 10 years downtown.”

Bergeron was enthusiastic that the development has condos, apartments, and social housing in the same location, combined with community services.

“We need that density, that quality of project. We need projects with mixed-use like this project has to have the city that we want,” said Bergeron.

The opposition at city hall pointed out that most of the condos and apartments will be between 700 and 800 square feet, pretty tight for a family.

“We believe and the housing department has done studies that indicate there’s a market for that,” said Executive Committee member Russell Copeman. “If families want homes that are much larger than that, they’re not going to find them in downtown Montreal,” adding that having roughly 2,000 people living in the area will help merchants including those in the old forum.

“We have a marvelous opportunity to contribute to, as Mr. Bergeron said, to the rejuvenation of this neighbourhood,” he said.

The entire project, with its 1,400 housing units and 600 underground parking spots, will be subject to public consultations beginning in January.

If all goes according to plan the demolition of the hospital will begin next summer, and two towers could be completed next year, with the entire project finished in five to seven years.

This is what will appear, a block from home, over the next seven years …