Developers Carbonleo and L Catterton Real Estate have unveiled a dramatically revamped vision for the next phase of their mammoth Royalmount mixed-use project in Montreal.
Calling the new plan “new and improved” from a previous vision that included 6,000 residential units and significant entertainment spaces that critics said would generate too much automobile traffic, the developers introduced a host of changes such as a 3.8-kilometre pedestrian and bicycle path accessible year round, new LEED targets, an overhauled community energy grid plan and scaled-back residential and entertainment components.
“Our vision for Royalmount is completely different than it was five years ago,” said Andrew Lutfy, Carbonleo president and CEO, in a statement.
Last year Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante complained, “The Royalmount project has no social acceptability in its current form.”
Carbonleo started working with research firms and facilitators to gather feedback from community groups and individuals and also re-engaged with the Town of Mount Royal, the City of Montreal and other agencies.
The new plan released Feb. 25 includes an electric shuttle system to facilitate travel around the Royalmount site and potentially in the Namur–De la Savane sector, with service extending to Trudeau International Airport and the Reseau express metropolitain (REM) Canora station. The covered pedestrian and cycle link will connect to the De la Savane metro station, where a public square and mobility hub will be set up.
Michael Stroll, Carbonleo’s senior director of retail leasing, said the many new sustainability features reflect the changing world as well as his firm’s evolving vision. Most zoning approvals — for all but the residential component — were obtained in 2015.
“The project in general is very well accepted and endorsed by the public. But because it is so large-scale and in the centre of the city, there are always going to be people who are impacted, some positively, some negatively.”
The feedback confirmed public support for a significant housing component, Stroll said.
Carbonleo will now ask for 4,500 housing units but the 74-acre former industrial lands, located on Montreal Island near the intersection of highways 15 and 40, are not currently zoned for any residences so that component of the project remains up for negotiation. Mount Royal Mayor Philippe Roy mentioned 2,000 to 3,000 units in a recent interview with Montreal media.
A Carbonleo spokesperson said the value of the commercial component is $1.4 billion but with a full complement of residences the project’s total value would rise to $7 billion.
Stroll said zoning consideration for the residences would be a two-phased process, with approvals needed from first the Town of Mount Royal then the City of Montreal. The final word could come in a year, or faster or slower, he said.
Under the new plan, the space dedicated to green uses and community facilities will increase by 170 per cent. Carbonleo has decided to remove the outdoor stage and the two performance venues that were originally planned with only one multi-use venue now envisaged. In total, the business footprint has been reduced by 30 per cent. The new plan also reduced the commercial parking component by 60 per cent, from 12,000 spaces to fewer than 5,000.
Other features of the project include hotels, retail, hospitality, a water park and office space. The Carbonleo website documents that excavation work is well underway for the commercial builds with contractor Roxboro Excavation Inc. expected to complete that phase this spring. The developers’ timetable called for the arrival of seven cranes onsite on Feb. 29 and the creation of a dedicated concrete plant for the project.
Stroll said the negotiations over the residential component have not affected the timing of the commercial projects. A grand opening of the commercial component is expected in August 2020 and the work remains on time and on budget, he said.
The horizon for construction of the residences is long-term, Stroll said, with a possible 10- to 15-year build-out.
Carbonleo said it is the first private developer to use the services of Traces Quebec, an agency that coordinates the management of recyclable and contaminated materials, to handle the 7,000 tonnes of contaminated soils on the site. The developer plans to recover and recycle 88 per cent of materials back into construction.
It is expected 35,000 jobs will be created during construction.
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