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CF unveils 5M-sq.-ft. ‘downtown’ in Montreal’s West Island

Cadillac Fairview will build a new downtown of about five million square feet in Montreal’s West...

IMAGE: Cadillac Fairview has just announced plans for a new

Cadillac Fairview has just announced plans for a new “downtown” in the West Island district of Pointe-Claire, around a new REM light-rail station and connected to its CF Fairview Pointe Claire shopping centre. (Courtesy CF)

Cadillac Fairview will build a new downtown of about five million square feet in Montreal’s West Island, on land west of its existing CF Fairview Pointe Claire mall in Pointe-Claire.

The massive development will include office and residential towers, 5,000 residential units, a seniors residence, a boutique hotel, parks and retail, all of which will be centred by a new REM light-rail transit station and bus terminus.

“The only thing the West Island doesn’t have is a downtown and that’s where we come in,” said Brian Salpeter, senior vice-president, development, Eastern Canada portfolio at Cadillac Fairview.

Although Pointe-Claire is in the heart of the West Island, “what we’re creating is the downtown for the entire West Island, not just Pointe-Claire.”

Salpeter unveiled details of the proposed new downtown in a session discussing the West Island during the Montreal Real Estate Forum, held online Oct. 6 and 7.

Cadillac Fairview’s “very ambitious” plan

The goal is to create a “very ambitious” dense, multi-use centre that responds to the needs of the West Island community, he said. “We’re not coming in and building something which is foreign and unknown to this community.”

Cadillac Fairview has been in the area for 55 years; it developed CF Fairview Pointe Claire in 1965 and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the years in expansions and renovations.

The enclosed mall with about a million square feet of retail space and 175 retailers “continues to be the economic hub and really the focal point of the entire area. Now we’re moving on to the next phase.”

Salpeter described the project as an “urban core in a suburban setting” with mixed-uses including residential, office and entertainment.

He did not provide a timeline, nor a cost estimate for the multi-phase project. It will be built in an area that encompasses the westbound service road of Highway 40 (Trans-Canada Highway), Saint-Jean Boulevard, Brunswick Boulevard and Fairview Avenue.

Large Pointe-Claire land assembly

Much of the project will be built on what Cadillac Fairview calls the John Abbott College Lands. The 50-acre site was once earmarked for the college but it instead opted to settle further west in Sainte-Anne de Bellevue on the West Island.

Cadillac Fairview acquired the land in 2013 when it “saw the synergies and the potential for the entire site.”

He did not divulge the acquisition cost, aside from noting it was more than $5 per square foot. That parcel of land alone will give Cadillac Fairview about two million square feet of buildable area.

Another part of the project includes land Cadillac Fairview bought in 2016 housing a Réno-Dépôt big box home improvement store off Fairview Avenue, which still has a lease in place.

Phase 1 of the project involves the redevelopment of the former Sears store, which is currently being transformed into a two-level Simons department store and food court at a cost of more than $100 million. The Simons store is scheduled to open next summer.

Simons is “a great retailer which has really come through the pandemic in terms of their operations,” Salpeter said. “They’ve done a superb job in terms of how they’ve really been able to manage and adapt to the situation.

“So we’re very excited to bring what will be a Simons flagship that will serve the entire West Island and beyond.”

The new food court will include terraces and become a focal point not just for the mall but for the development, he said. A public plaza will connect the food court and the rest of the development.

REM station at heart of development

A REM station and bus terminus will be located at the centre of the development, making it a true transit-oriented development, he said.

“We worked very hard to locate that REM station in the ideal zone to really be able to benefit everybody who’s going to be here in terms of residential and office,” Salpeter said.

He added there is an opportunity to create “a great office campus” that “will be the meat in the sandwich” of the project.

“We can go anywhere from 600,000 to a million square feet, depending on what the market wants.”

Salpeter said the project does not face any density restrictions. The only height restrictions are from Trudeau International Airport, “but nothing that would actually impact us in terms of what we want to build.”

Phase 2 of the project will include offices to be built in the mixed-use Secteur Centre-ville of the project, which will also include hotel and residential.

Plans include a 150-room boutique hotel built over eight floors, a 21-storey seniors residence with 400 units and rental towers of 10 floors with each containing 150 to 200 units.

Residential phase to follow

Phase 3 will see the first full residential phase. Many of the residential units will be built in the Secteur du Parc. There will be a mix of condominiums, rental units, high-rise and mid-rise buildings, townhouses and stacked townhouses.

In addition, a “main, very human-scale street” will connect with an oval-shaped park in the middle of the development.

“Obviously, we can’t build 5,000 residential units and five million square feet in one phase. As ambitious as we are, we are looking at this in terms of a phased-in plan,” Salpeter said.

“This is always subject to change; we will adjust based on market conditions.”

It’s the second major Montreal project to be announced in recent months by Cadillac Fairview.

In August, it unveiled plans for a $2.5-billion project to create a new downtown in Anjou, in Montreal’s East end at the proposed terminus of the Blue Line of Montreal’s metro and next to the Galeries d’Anjou mall, which it co-owns with Ivanhoé Cambridge. 

It would include a million square feet of office space, 5,000 residential units and a linear park.

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