The transformation of Montreal’s Griffintown from post-industrial brownfield to an address with cachet continues, as Quebec constructor Devimco Immobilier and its partner the Fonds immobilier de solidarite FTQ have announced the launch of Hexagone 2, a new 22-storey residential rental project.
Located at the corner of Murray and Smith streets southwest of Montreal's central business district, Hexagone 2 will be taller by seven storeys than the project's first phase, Hexagone 1. The new tower will feature 320 studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units and 22,500 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor on a 28,000-square-foot lot.
In a statement issued in June, Devimco Immobilier president Serge Goulet commented, "Choosing District Griffin means choosing to live in a charming, vibrant neighbourhood that is undergoing a massive transformation and that is within easy reach of services and downtown. Our goal when designing these two phases of L'Hexagone was to create a haven for Montrealers, cyclists, runners and hikers by building near Old Montreal, the Lachine Canal and the Atwater market."
For over a century Griffintown was home to factories, metal workshops, the O'Keefe brewery, printing plants and shipping companies, notes City of Montreal planning documents. Stagnation followed the closing of the Lachine Canal in 1970 but the demolitions that followed created opportunities for redevelopment in a prime location.
A turnaround was sparked in part by the relocation of Montreal's engineering school, the Ecole de technologie superieure, to Notre-Dame Street West in the 1990s.
Devimco has been building in the commercial and residential sectors in Griffintown since 2005 and today, according to its website, it is building half of the condos being sold in the community.
Reclaiming the abandoned lands for redevelopment requires developers to work closely with the city as infrastructure such as roadways, water distribution, drainage and sanitary sewers must all be extended and built to accommodate a higher-intensity land use, commented Francois Beaulieu, project manager for Edyfic Construction, a division of Devimco.
"We need to have water, electrical, and the infrastructure of the city was built for a smaller density, an industrial area," he explained. "They need to adapt to the new projects, and it is being done almost at the same time they are redoing so much infrastructure in the area and they will be doing this for many years to come.
"It is a challenge. We need to be able to bring our construction material in, and they need to do their infrastructure work, so we co-ordinate a lot with them to make sure everything works."
Building permits were granted in January and excavation and pile work is well underway, said Beaulieu, with Excavation Tremblay et Fils and Petrifond at work onsite. He foresees a peak construction crew of about 150 workers. Completion is expected in early 2019.
The city's master plan for Griffintown mentions opportunities for significant diverse uses such as tourism and recreation, continued housing development and maintenance of institutional and industrial uses. Relocation of the Bonaventure expressway would permit better integration with the city's central business district, say the planners.
Meanwhile, it's rewarding to be involved in redeveloping an important part of the city, said Beaulieu.
"If you look at Griffintown 10 years ago and today, the area looks modern, it's moving, we have created business in the area," he said.
Other firms involved in the build include Les architectes FABG, Beaudoin Hurens as structural and civil engineers, Blondin Fortin as mechanical and electrical engineers, Corsim as project manager, Coffrage Atlantique undertaking formwork, Acier Orford Inc. doing rebar, Clermont on cladding and Bernard MNJ & associes Inc. installing gypsum.
"The list will be longer in a couple weeks," noted Beaulieu.
The project manager refrained from categorizing the project as high end or modest priced, saying, "The quality is there. We are doing something nice. All units are climatized, the finishes are modern, trendy, everything is there."
One block away, at Peel and Wellington, Devimco is building luxury condos in an 18-storey building billed as the Exalto Peel project. Devimco is active in the condo market in three Griffintown neighbourhoods it calls District sur l'Eau, District sur le Parc and District sur Peel.