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Fonds FTQ, Montoni go it alone on huge Montréal Molson redevelopment

Partners buy out Groupe Selection's stake in 6-million-sq.-ft. mixed-use project

The site of the former Molson brewery in Montreal. (Courtesy Fonds FTQ)
The site of the former Molson brewery in Montréal. (Courtesy Fonds FTQ) 

Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ and Montoni will remain partners in the massive redevelopment of the former Montréal Molson brewery site after they acquired the interest of Groupe Sélection as part of the firm’s restructuring proceedings.

The 25.25-acre property is to be redeveloped with up to six million square feet of mixed-use space, anchored by approximately 5,000 housing units. 

Under the transaction, Fonds acquired the share previously held by Groupe Sélection and has sold a portion of its stake to Montoni to become equal partners in the massive redevelopment. 

Financial details were not released, but the site had been acquired from Molson in 2019 for $126 million, according to published reports.

Development to include 5,000 housing units

"It was important for us to acquire Groupe Sélection's interest to show how much we believe in the site's development potential,” Martin Raymond, president and CEO of Fonds, said in the announcement Wednesday morning. 

“In keeping with our business model of being equal partners with our developer partners, we are pleased and proud to look to a trusted ally in Montoni to complete this large-scale live/work/play project for the benefit of Montréalers.” 

The site at 1500 Notre-Dame St., is considered one of the city’s most important heritage sites and various components of the former Molson facility are being integrated into the redevelopment, which is to include:

  • 5,000 mixed residential units including affordable, social and family housing;
  • over 200,000 square feet of retail/commercial uses;
  • an economic and business hub mainly centred on innovation;
  • a civic hub;
  • tourist attractions including a museum and brewery experience;
  • a park overlooking the St. Lawrence River; and
  • a school.

“The planned construction of nearly 5,000 residential units, including affordable, social and family housing, will help alleviate the current housing shortage. We already make a strong team with Montoni based on the pooling of our complementary expertise,” Raymond said in the announcement.

"We are committed to developing an innovative mixed-use neighbourhood that will help reduce the carbon footprint downtown and we will do this in collaboration with neighbouring stakeholders with an eye to serving the needs of all types of clients.”

Elements of the former brewery being integrated into the development, for which the preliminary design was unveiled in early 2022, include the clock, the Molson sign and the chimney. New Montréal Molson Coors' administrative offices will also be included.

Prep work has begun at the site

Some preparation has begun at the site. The beer tanks were dismantled in 2022 and work to clear the interiors of the industrial buildings is ongoing.

"The redevelopment of the former Molson brewery is an iconic project in terms of its history, its place in the Montréal landscape, its size and most importantly its potential,” Dario Montoni, president of Montoni, said in the announcement. “We are honoured to be giving Montrealers access to this one-of-a-kind site, reconnecting it to the surrounding districts and creating spectacular visual openings onto the St. Lawrence River.

"We want to create a vibrant neighbourhood on a human scale while leveraging our leading-edge expertise in sustainable development." 

The design team for the project includes urban planning consultancy BC2, Sid Lee Architecture, archeology firm Arkéos and architect Luce Lafontaine, a consultant in the conservation of built heritage.

Fonds, Montoni partners at Espace Montmorency

This is the second major project Fonds FTQ and Montoni are partners in, and which formerly also involved Groupe Sélection.

In May, Fonds FTQ acquired Sélection’s stake in the multi-phased Espace Montmorency, the largest-ever development in the Greater Montreal city of Laval.

They are also equal partners in that venture, which had an estimated value of over $450 million when construction began.

Espace Montmorency includes four towers. Two are devoted to residential uses, a third tower contains a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel with 188 rooms and the fourth is to be a 16-storey, 350,000-square-foot office building.

Other features include a 60,000-square-foot inner courtyard plus an amenity package for residents and other site users.

Groupe Sélection entered restructuring proceedings in November 2022 when it filed an application under the Companies' Creditors' Arrangement Act. Since the process began, several of its properties have been sold.

When it entered the proceedings, Sélection held a portfolio of revenue-generating and development properties across multiple asset classes valued at over $5 billion. It has properties across the Canada and the United States.

About Fonds, Montoni

The Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ invests in real estate projects in partnership with leading industry players, in the residential, office, commercial, institutional and industrial sectors.

As at June 30, 2023, the Fonds immobilier had 47 projects with a combined value of $6.2 billion in development or construction, 70 portfolio properties under management, 3.7 million square feet of land for development and a cumulative total of $337 million invested in social and community projects. 

Montoni has a portfolio of close to 500 projects representing more than 20 million square feet of industrial, commercial, institutional and residential construction, 30 head offices and another 22 million square feet under development. 

The Montréal-based firm also holds extensive land portfolios across the Greater Montréal area. 

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