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Brivia pauses Montreal Stirlyng condo development, ponders switch to rentals

Elsewhere in the city, the developer has sold over 95% of its 1 Square Phillips condos

The entrance to Brivia's building at 1 Square Phillips. (Courtesy Brivia)
The entrance to Brivia's building at 1 Square Phillips. (Courtesy Brivia)

Faced with a slowdown in Montreal condo sales, Brivia Group has pressed pause on one of its downtown condo developments, but is getting a boost from B.C.-based investors for sales of its other projects in the city. 

“The current Montreal condo market is quite difficult,” Vincent Kou, chief investment and development officer at Brivia Group, told RENX.

Compared with Toronto and Vancouver, Montreal “has seen the slowest growth in sales in the last six months.”

That’s why Brivia has put its planned 22-storey Stirlyng on Peel Street north of du Maisonneuve Boulevard on pause after it started excavation work on the project. Given the slow market conditions, Brivia is instead putting the focus on optimizing Phase 2 of its 1 Square Phillips and Mansfield condo projects, he said. 

“When we launched last fall, (Stirlyng) was meant to be condos,” Kou said, but “we’re taking this slowdown period as an opportunity to revisit the project.” 

He said rentals would likely work better than expensive high-end condos in the current market, “so we’re sort of going back to the drawing board and rethinking the concept of the project.”

However, if Stirlyng becomes a rental project, the building would retain the same size and height already approved by the city. 

Brivia's other Montreal projects

Elsewhere in downtown Montreal, things are going well for Phase 1 of 1 Square Phillips, where more than 95 per cent of the 498 condo units have sold and construction has reached its 61-storey peak.

The residential tower is vying with Devimco’s 61-and-58 storey Maestria project as Montreal’s tallest residential tower. 

Kou said the building’s 20 storeys of high-end rentals should be ready to receive tenants in spring 2024 and condo deliveries will likely begin then as well.

Sales for Phase 2 of 1 Square Phillips – a 21-storey building with 324 condo units – have been slower “but we have achieved quite substantial sales because of our network (of brokers) in Vancouver,” he said.

Brivia has gained access to that network through the launch of its 60-storey Curv development in downtown Vancouver.

Although the Montreal condo market is slow, prices are much lower, which has attracted Vancouver investors to the Quebec metropolis. “The traction that we gain in Vancouver through the network helps us achieve quite a lot of sales.”

Kou said the Vancouver-based investors plan to rent out the units.

Kou said Brivia should be able to close construction financing for Phase 2 of 1 Square Phillips shortly as sales targets are being reached.

He adds the firm is putting in place a partnership with a major Montreal-based investor that will further solidify the project.

Vancouver buyers for Montreal projects

The number of Vancouver buyers for Brivia’s downtown Montreal projects “is not that big, but in the context where we are today, where there are absolutely no high-end condo sales in downtown, it was quite important for us to achieve those sales which will lead ultimately to the finalization of our construction loan and a new partnership.” 

Plans still call for Phase 3 of 1 Square Phillips to be a hotel and the developer is working on options with potential hotel brands or investors. 

Construction financing is in place for the 19-storey Mansfield condo development on Mansfield Street, but Brivia is working on achieving additional sales to continue construction.

“We sort of slowed the pace a little bit like most of the projects in Montreal right now,” Kou said.

Kou said Brivia is tapping into its B.C. network so it can resume a “normal pace of construction (for Mansfield).

“Activity is still going on, just at a slower pace, because we want to make sure that we don't advance too far while waiting for the sales to catch up.”

Sales on pace for Brivia's Curv

The CURV Passive House 60-storey tower, at right in this rendering, in Vancouver. (Courtesy Brivia Group)
The CURV Passive House 60-storey tower, at right in this rendering, in Vancouver. (Courtesy Brivia Group)

On the other hand, sales are going as expected for CURV, Brivia’s 60-storey Vancouver development that is slated to be the world’s tallest Passive House, Kou said.

“We’re very happy so far. Despite the much more difficult market conditions and the economy in general, things are moving quite positively and the market response so far is as per our expectations."

Citing competitive reasons, Kou would not provide the number of units that have sold. Condos at CURV are priced at between $2,000 to $3,000 per square foot.

Brivia expects to announce additional partners soon for the development.

CURV will be certified Passive House which will save up to 90 per cent of energy costs compared to a standard building.

"It’s going to be absolutely unique in North America and in the world,” Kou said, noting Passive Houses are normally a maximum of 12 to 20 storeys. 

If everything goes well, construction of the project at Nelson and Thurlow streets should begin late 2024 or early 2025.

CURV’s cost has not been finalized, although Kou notes Passive House requirements add 10 per cent to construction costs.

Brivia's other projects

Elsewhere, Brivia is pursuing plans to build a three-phase, mixed-use project on Highway 7 near Warden Street in Markham, Ont., that would combine condos, rental and some commercial space.

“It would basically be the gateway to Markham downtown.”

Kou said the project probably won’t see the light of day until the end of 2024 because the zoning process is ongoing. 

Markham is very dynamic, he said. “Everything that’s being built around there is being sold quite fast.” 

In 2021, Brivia bought from RioCan and the Harden Group the 646,000-square-foot LaSalle Carnival Centre at the corner of Newman Boulevard and Léger Street in the Montreal borough of LaSalle.

Plans call for a mixed-use TOD project but “things are not there yet. We’re still going through the zoning process with the city. We want to make sure that we take the time with a concept and a project that is sustainable and can optimize the site and meet city requirements.”

Sales thresholds have been met for Phases 1 and 2 of Brivia’s L'Hymne des Trembles, a 64-unit ski-in, ski-out development at Quebec's Mont Tremblant consisting of single-family houses, townhouses and a few condos.

The project will have its own chairlift to bring residents to the ski hill. 

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