Montreal

Plaza St-Hubert: With construction workers away, merchants welcome shoppers back to play

For the next three weekends, pedestrians are invited back into the shopping district as works halts for the construction holiday and a street fair takes over the strip.

Street fair includes sidewalk sale, musical performances for next 3 weekends

Merchants are hoping the St-Hubert Street fair breathes back life into the district that's been turned into a major construction zone. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

Merchants on St-Hubert Street in Montreal are getting a welcome, if temporary, reprieve from a two-year construction project to refurbish the plaza.

For the next three weekends, pedestrians are invited into the shopping district, as a street fair takes over the strip.

Local merchants have been up to their eyeballs in dust and metal fencing since work began last August.

Construction on the $55-million refurbishment project is expected to be completed in 2020.

"It's been a tough, tough year," said Nicolas Alzani, owner of Café Crème. "It's going to start picking up, but like anything else, it's not over till it's over."

A lot of work has been done on the plaza since May. (Lauren McCallum/CBC)

The street's annual festival was pushed back from its usual dates due to construction, but merchants say it's better late than never.

"We feel good. It feels like the end of hell," Alzani said. "Hopefully, people will come back, but I still believe it will take a while."

Merchants who have been through the worst are hoping the next three weekends will kick-start sales again.

And those who are about to go through it are hoping it will give them one last financial boost before the orange cones move in.

Mike Parente is the head of the St-Hubert merchants' association. (CBC)

Mike Parente, head of the St-Hubert merchants' association, said the street fair will provide a much-needed lift for his members' morale.

"I won't hide that it's a construction site, so it's not always easy," he said. "But for the most part, a lot of them came out of it positive. They knew that it was a passage they had to go through. And they are really looking forward to the new street."

Soon it'll be the turn of merchants between St-Zotique and Bellechasse streets to weather the construction storm.

Parente said although it's a long haul, "the city and the contractor did a really good job at keeping access to the stores at all times and making sure there was a certain fluidity."

"We're confident that it should go well on the south part."

Parente added that work to install the new glass awnings will begin in September.

The fair will run the weekends of July 19 to 21,  July 26 to 28 and Aug. 2 to 4, with a sidewalk sale and musical performances.

With files from Simon Nakonechny

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