Montreal·Exclusive

'They're going to take me out of here in handcuffs,' expropriated garage owner tells TMR, Royalmount

In a David versus Goliath redux, this fight pits tiny garage owner Athanasios Azeloglou against the Town of Mount Royal and developer Carbonleo.

Athanasios Azeloglou is up against Carbonleo's mega-mall project Royalmount

Athanasios Azeloglou is not happy about being expropriated from his garage to make way for the Royalmount mega-mall. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

"How would you feel if you got thrown out of your house, tell me?" Athanasios Azeloglou shouts angrily.

"This is my house. My bread and butter."

For the past two years, Azeloglou has been fighting to keep ownership of his garage at 8291 Royden Road in the face of expropriation by the Town of Mount Royal, to make way for Carbonleo's mega-mall project Royalmount.

Azeloglou has owned the property since 1993 and runs three businesses out of it, including a fleet of Montreal taxis.

He's fighting a losing battle though, as TMR has already transferred ownership of the building to a subsidiary company of Carbonleo. Azeloglou has been ordered to vacate the premises permanently by February. 

"What happens to me?" asks Azeloglou. "I'm on the street."

"But it's not going to happen: they're going to take me out of here in handcuffs."

Azeloglou's garage, right, is in the area zoned for the Royalmount mega-mall. The garage's neighbours have since been expropriated and the buildings demolished. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Others expropriated

Azeloglou wasn't the only one to be approached.

Royden Road north of Royalmount Avenue is at the heart of what will be the Royalmount project.

Louise Carrière was co-owner of Les Ateliers Grand Cirque Inc., once located at 8315 Royden Road, next to Azeloglou's garage.

"Since the end of 2017, we knew that we had to move because of the Royalmount project," Carrière said.

"It was hard for us to find another location so we decided to sell our business."

Through the expropriation, they received the market value of the property.

The same thing happened to her neighbour, Shivas Watches, in July 2018.

For the past two months, bulldozers have been at work demolishing those buildings.

Two-year battle

Azeloglou says the battle began almost two years ago, when the city came to him with an offer to buy the building at market value or face expropriation.

According to a spokesperson for Carbonleo, the developer believes Azeloglou had willingly sold his lot to TMR.

"We are not aware of any complaint since then," said Kate Monfette.

TMR spokesperson Alain Côté confirmed in an email to CBC that expropriations were taking place, but it wouldn't say anything about Azeloglou's case.

"The Town cannot comment on the case as the dossier is now before the Administrative Tribunal of Québec," said Côté.

Azeloglou was the one who decided to take his battle to the tribunal, after he refused to sell.

He had received extensions from the city after the original expropriation order. But in April this year, the tribunal ruled the expropriation final, transferred ownership and ordered Azeloglou to be gone by February.

Azeloglou vows he won't leave without a fight — even a physical one.

Azeloglou calls his garage 'home' and says it's unacceptable the town can just take ownership away from him. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Leavitt

Journalist

Sarah Leavitt is a multimedia journalist with CBC who loves hearing people's stories. Tell her yours: sarah.leavitt@cbc.ca or on Twitter @SarahLeavittCBC.

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