Devimco Immobilier will spend almost $500 million to build over 1,200 rental and condo units above and surrounding the Longueuil – Université-de-Sherbrooke Metro station and bus terminal as part of the first phase of the development of a new downtown in the city.
The 1.2-million-square-foot mixed-use project will also include a complete overhaul of the existing subway station – the third-busiest in Greater Montreal’s Metro system – and a retail component.
It’s the largest project to be announced in Quebec since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Projects like this will be needed for the economy to relaunch,” said Longueuil Mayor Sylvie Parent, noting “there will be a tomorrow to this crisis.”
Devimco and Longueuil have been working together on the project since 2018, when the developer was selected by the city to develop and plan the mixed-use, multiresidential project at the site of the only Metro station on the South Shore of Montreal.
“It’s an ambitious project” that will be integral to the economy of Longueuil for many years, said Devimco president Serge Goulet. He saluted Longueuil for announcing the project during a difficult economic period. “Citizens need this type of major project.”
Two rental towers, two condo towers
The project, whose name has not yet been divulged, will include two rental towers and two condo towers, each of which will have 22 storeys.
It requires formal approval from Longueuil council, which is expected to come at its next meeting May 26.
The rental towers will be built above the current Metro station, which Goulet called the key to the project. The condo towers, which will include a retail component, will be built above a parking lot next to the Metro station.
The parking lot will be decontaminated by the city of Longueuil at a cost of $1.2 million.
Goulet said Devimco will build a large entry hall to the Metro station that will give it “an air of nobility.”
“It will be taller, bigger and better-lit.”
Windows at the station will provide views of Place Charles Le Moyne, a “fantastic public space” to be developed by the city for $2 million. Space at the underground subway station will be more than doubled.
Goulet envisioned commissioning local artists to create artwork at the site to evoke the history of Longueuil.
Six-year construction timeline
The project will be built over a six-year period starting in the latter half of 2021. It will begin with the demolition of the current Metro station.
About 30 months of construction will be required to build the new Metro station and the rental towers above it. Another 30 months or so will be required to build the condominium towers.
“Six years is doable and we’ll try to beat it,” Goulet said.
The project is being designed by Devimco and the architectural firm FABG. It will be built by Edyfic Construction, Devimco’s construction arm: “That’s one of our strengths – having our own construction firm.”
The development could include an entire floor devoted to co-working spaces for residents working from home, the self-employed or students, Goulet said.
The site is already a knowledge hub with the presence of three universities: the campuses of Université de Sherbrooke, Université de Montréal and Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).
Longueuil and its new downtown
Neighbourhood stores and services will be needed at the site of the future downtown, which will include a mix of residents and business people, he said. “As a result, the residential development will be a “hybrid” project with the same types of services seen in office buildings.
With its neighbourhood store component, the project will allow area residents to reduce their dependency on cars, Parent said during a May 21 news conference broadcast on Twitter.
There will be no social housing in the Devimco development, but the City of Longueuil is developing a social housing policy for the area, Parent said.
To make way for the project, Longueuil sold 134,000 square feet of land to Devimco for $13.8 million.
Longueuil expects the project to provide more than $75 million in property taxes to city coffers over the next 15 years. “It’s enormous,” Parent said.
Several other projects are in the planning stage for Longueuil’s new downtown, including what the city dubs a digital innovation zone.
Parent said people’s current fears of taking public transit during the COVID-19 pandemic will not persist and the project will not be affected.
“What we’re seeing now in mass transit is only momentary. People will start working again and will start moving again. Our intent is that when that happens, it will have to happen with mass transit.”
The city’s “greatest ambition” is to reduce the number of cars and provide public transit worthy of its name once the pandemic is behind us, she said.