Developers want to build twin residential skyscrapers that would be tallest in Montreal

A consortium of real estate developers have started promoting a $700-million pair of residential towers that promise to dominate Montreal's skyline well before municipal officials have given the project a green light.

Ville-Marie yet to receive proposal for project that would tower over cultural district

Two skylounges and a walkway are planned for the 25th floors of the proposed project which promises to reach 53 storeys into the sky above Quartier des spectacles. ( Devimco Immobilier)

A consortium of real estate developers have started promoting a $700-million pair of residential towers that would dominate Montreal's skyline — well before municipal officials have given the project a green light.

Developers announced Thursday that the MAESTRIA, the proposed mixed-use complex which would rise more than 50-storeys high on the site of the long-closed Spectrum theatre in the Quartier des Spectacles, will include some 1,000 "prestigious" condos, 500 rental units and a window-lined bridge connecting the two towers 25 floors up.

It was designed in collaboration with the architectural firm Lemay. In the announcement, the firm's senior partner, Daniel Arbour, describes the two towers as "seemingly in motion, like a pair of tango dancers."

Construction is slated to begin by the end of 2019 and unbuilt condos are to hit the market in February, the announcement says.

But city spokesperson Youssef Amane is calling the announcement a "publicity stunt," because the project hasn't even been submitted to the Ville-Marie borough's planning advisory committee for review.

"They are doing everything upside down," Amane told Radio-Canada.

The city's administration is not for or against the project, he explained, but there are steps that need to be followed — the first being the borough's confirmation that the project respects local zoning regulations.

With a project of this magnitude, he said, the city can always call for changes along the way.

Integrating into Quartier des Spectacles

The project is being developed by Devimco Immobilier, the Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ and Fiera Properties.

The announcement says there are plans to incorporate the project into the area's cultural scene.

Highlights of the project include indoor parking, pools, a Scandinavian spa, a movie theatre, retail spaces, games for children and two sky lounges.

Signs announcing the new real estate project were posted to the site of the former Spectrum on Wednesday. (Jérôme Labbé/Radio-Canada)

Signs touting the towers are already up on the site. The towers are to include access points off Jeanne-Mance, Bleury and Ste-Catherine streets — all steps away from the Place des Arts, in a district alive with festivals and other events throughout the year.

At 53 storeys, one of the towers, if built, would be the tallest building in Montreal.

Dinu Bumbaru, policy director for Heritage Montreal, says a skyscraper doesn't fit into the urban landscape on Ste-Catherine Street, as it might on, say, René-Lévesque Boulevard. 

He questions if it's a real development or just flashy images "that don't seem to fit the Montreal landscape."

He said that site, in particular, could also be a huge loss to the public.

"So much public money has been spent on the Place des Festivals. If you drown it in shade, or a wind vortex, with a bad highrise around it, you end up wasting $100 million of public money," Bumbaru said.

Normand Bélanger, president and CEO of the Fonds immobilier, said, however, that the project would help drive the city's economy.

"As a reminder of the glory days of the Spectrum, we plan to incorporate some commemorative items, including a collection from the legendary concert venue's archives," Bélanger said.

Veteran developers back project

The companies behind the project are mainstays in the greater Montreal region.

Devimco, headquartered in Brossard, is behind the Quartier Dix30 and was responsible for one third of all new condos in downtown Montreal in 2017.

MAESTRIA's two towers will provide bird's-eye views of Montreal's cultural district, the developers say. (Devimco Immobilier)

Fiera Properties manages some $3 billion of commercial real estate through its investment funds and accounts, according to its website. It is owned by Fiera Capital Corporation, an investment-management firm with more than $143 billion of assets under its management.

Fonds immobilier acquired the land of the old theatre after it closed in 2007.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this article said Fiera Properties is valued at $3 billion, including $600 million of assets in Quebec, and is part of the much larger Fiera Capital, which has assets valued at nearly $150 billion. In fact, Fiera Properties and Fiera Capital manage those assets, they don't own them.
    Nov 22, 2018 3:51 PM ET

With files from Radio-Canada