Makeover in store for historic St-Laurent Boulevard block

A strip of St-Laurent Boulevard — from Ste-Catherine Street to the Monument-National — will be getting a $130-million makeover.

Developer planning $130M revamp of St-Laurent Blvd between Monument-National and Ste-Catherine St.

New buildings on St-Laurent Boulevard, between the Monument-National and Ste-Catherine Street, will house a food court, Quebec government offices and underground parking. (Société de développement Angus et Provencher-Roy)

A strip of St-Laurent Boulevard — from Ste-Catherine Street to the Monument-National — will be getting a $130-million makeover. 

The Société de developpement Angus (SDA), which already owns most of the land on the west side of the boulevard, says it will start a series of construction projects in October.

The revamped block will include the Centre d'histoire de Montéal — currently located in Old Montreal — and a food court on the ground floor. SDA promises the food court won't have any major chains.

​"By 2019, the corner of Ste-Catherine and St-Laurent will be occupied. There won't be a single vacant building. It'll be taken up by something beautiful and open," said SDA CEO Christian Yaccarini.

In June 2018, Montreal’s Ville-Marie borough ruled that regular listings on Airbnb would only be permitted along a three-kilometre stretch of Sainte-Catherine Street. (Benoît Chapdelaine/Radio-Canada)

The first phase of the project will be a six or seven-storey office building on the southern end of the block, near the Monument-National, which will house hundreds of employees from Quebec's immigration department.

The second phase, on the northern end of the block, will be a twelve-storey building for a hotel or private housing. Only the first two floors will be built in the first phase.

The project is also expected to include 200 spaces of underground parking.

Among the new development's future occupants will be the Société québécoise des infrastructures, which confirmed it signed a 25-year lease with SDA starting Jan. 1, 2020.

Café Cleopatra staying put

The SDA has been seeking the redevelop this strip of St. Laurent for close to 10 years. As it bought up property on the street, it faced opposition from Café Cleopartra, an iconic strip club that has been around since 1976 and is located in a building that dates from 1899.   

Despite many efforts to expropriate the building, the SDA decided to bypass the establishment and build behind it, by Clark Street.

Johnny Zomboulakis (centre) is the owner of Café Cleopatra, a burlesque club operating since 1976. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

On the order of the City of Montreal, SDA demolished other buildings in the area due to fears they would collapse. The SDA had to keep many of the stones from the demolished buildings, which dated from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

"We are in discussions with the city on how to put the stones back," said Yaccarini, adding that 40 per cent of the stones are completely eroded.

SDA already owns 2-22 Ste-Catherine on the corner of St-Laurent Boulevard, which houses, among other things, the CIBL community radio station and the La Vitrine cultural information counter.

with files from Benoît Chapdelaine/Radio-Canada