Montreal

City of Montreal to buy Plaza Hutchison in Parc-Extension to create social housing

In a first for the city, it invoked its pre-emptive right to the property so that it could create social housing in a neighbourhood that is facing a housing crisis.

Property bought for $6.5M using legal power to take place of prospective buyer

Executive committee members Robert Beaudry and Rosannie Filato stand in front of Plaza Hutchinson. The city plans to buy the building in Parc-Extension to create 40 social housing units. (Matt D'Amours/CBC)

The City of Montreal is buying a mixed-use property in the Parc-Extension neighbourhood that was once set to become luxury condos.

In a first for the city, it invoked its pre-emptive right to the property so that it could create social housing in a neighbourhood that is facing a housing crisis.

The legal power gives the city the option to take the place of a buyer, paying market price.

The city will pay the current owner $6.5 million for the Plaza Hutchison Plaza, at 7290 and 7300 Hutchison St. Even though the price is 25 per cent higher than what city inspectors had valued it at, Robert Beaudry, the executive committee member responsible for housing, said the administration was satisfied with the price.

"We know that there is a lot of pressure on the price right now for residential land," he said.

The city has 60 days to approve the purchase, which will go before city council.

"We don't have the obligation to buy it. But right now, yes, we pay a little higher than the price we evaluated the building, but the market was ready to put this price on," he said.

In 2017, the owners of Plaza Hutchinson planned to build about 60 luxury condos. (Matt D'Amours/CBC)

The city will consult with local community groups to determine who should use the building, and provincial and federal funding still needs to be secured for renovations, but the city is estimating about 40 units for families and single people will be made available in Plaza Hutchison.

In 2017, the building's owner sent eviction notices to tenants, telling CBC News at the time that it hoped to renovate the building to attract new tenants at market rates.

Rosannie Filato, city councillor for Villeray, said those plans were not in the best interests of the neighbourhood, where further pressure has been put on rents due to the new Université de Montréal campus in Outremont.

"It's going to allow us to preserve diversity: social diversity, economic diversity, and it's going to allow, also, residents of Parc-Extension to continue to reside in their borough, in their district," she said of the social housing plan.

The building is in the heart of Parc-Extension, across the street from the Parc Metro station and major bus lines, making it one of the last affordable, centrally located neighbourhoods in the city.

"Because of the new campus, it is true that the prices have risen exponentially, and it is harder and harder to find reasonable rents," said Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli.

"Forty units will not answer to all the needs of the borough and of the district of Parc-Extension, but it's a very, very, very good beginning."

With files from Matt D'Amours

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