After a quarter century developing industrial, commercial and institutional real estate, Montoni Group has decided to venture into the residential market with a $40-million development in Montreal’s Park Extension neighbourhood.
“We’re changing our development strategy a little bit,” Dario Montoni, president of the company that bears his name, said in an interview with RENX. “We’re looking at going into communities and districts of the city and redeveloping the area.”
Montoni is building the 117-unit Le 495 Beaumont, a rental property slated for delivery next summer.
“We’re bringing a little bit what we’ve done on the industrial, commercial side into the residential side,” he says. “We’re trying to offer sort of a unique product.”
He’s bullish on the area, which is close to the new MIL Campus of the Université de Montréal.
In Park Extension and nearby Mile-Ex and Mile-End, “we own multiple properties, some that are zoned office and some that are zoned residential.”
In 2014, for example, Montoni converted an industrial building at 7250 Marconi St. into 82,616 square feet of office space. Three years later, it converted an industrial building at 950 Beaumont Ave. into 103,418 square feet of office space.
Montoni to focus on demographics, location
Le 495 is within walking distance of the Acadie and Parc metro stations. Montoni plans to announce other residential projects soon with a focus on sites near public transit.
“We’re really conscious of the location and the demographics,” Montoni said. “We’re not going to be as aggressive on the residential as we are on the industrial side. We’re trying to bring in a new, innovative product and we’ll see how the market reacts.”
Montoni has opted not to build condos in any of its residential developments. “On the industrial side, we build properties to hold,” and it will be the same on the residential front: “We’re looking at long-term holds.”
At Le 495, units will range from studios to three-bedrooms to townhouses, with rents from $1,000 to $3,000. Forty per cent of the units will be family-sized at two- or three-bedrooms.
Montoni will seek LEED V4 certification for green buildings for Le 495.
Since Le 495 borders on three streets – Beaumont, Querbes and Durocher – “we’ve created a product that’s forward-facing on the three streets and we’ve built an interior courtyard.”
Other features will include a rooftop community garden, barbecue area, teleworking space, gym and yoga area and four-season solariums that can be reserved by tenants.
“Instead of working from your apartment, you can work from a rooftop area that you can rent,” he said of the solarium. “It’ll feel like you’re in a greenhouse.”
Le 495 to incorporate Montoni’s AI app
There will also be about 8,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, including Le Roi du Bagel Original, which will have a storefront at the site where it operated a bagel shop and bakery for decades (an industrial building at the site was demolished to make way for Le 495). Overall, the development is almost 136,000 square feet.
Tenants at Le 495 will be able to use an AI-supported system developed by Montoni for its commercial tenants. The company opened its own technology division a few years ago.
Among its features, the mobile app will direct tenants to the most suitable parking spot, summon an elevator and preset climate-control and other systems in their spaces. “The technology is like having your own private butler next to you, to take care of all of your amenities.”
At Le 495, the app will also enable users to receive an alert when a parcel has been dropped off in a ground-floor smart locker.
“We’re going to commercialize this technology,” Montoni said. “We’re not just keeping it for us.”
Industrial remains “very, very strong”
Montoni said the company’s core business remains on the industrial side which is “very, very strong” in Montreal. In fact, it’s in the midst of signing the final tenants for its 1.7-million-square-foot redevelopment of the former Sears warehouse in the borough of Saint-Laurent.
The site is home to multiple tenants and a rooftop greenhouse garden farm by Lufa Farms. Lufa claims the urban farm, the size of three football fields, is the largest in the world.
Montoni plans to announce construction of an additional 250,000-square-foot industrial building at the site in the spring. Plans also call for another 250,000-square-foot industrial building in Laval to be announced in the spring.
The company continues to expand the industrial footprint at the CentrOparc business park in Mascouche, about 30 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
The 2.3-million-square-foot site at the junction of Highways 640 and 25 is home to several industrial tenants as well as an office building for the Desjardins Group financial services firm.
The latest entrant is restaurant and food services firm Groupe St-Hubert which is building a new distribution centre of more than 100,000 square feet. Construction will take about a year to complete.
Espace Montmorency on schedule
Montoni says construction the company’s major $450-million Espace Montmorency mixed-use project in Laval is on schedule for completion in 2022.
Consulting firm Deloitte has been announced as a major occupier for the development’s 332,000 square feet of office space and several tenant signings will be announced soon, Montoni says.
The project also includes two residential towers, a hotel tower and commercial space.
Along with Groupe Sélection and the Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ, Montoni is currently in consultation with the City of Montreal about the development of the Molson Brewery site on Notre-Dame Street, east of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge in Montreal.
The 1.2-million-square-foot mixed-use project could include up to 7,500 residential units.
Montoni has a portfolio of close to 450 projects, comprising over 15 million square feet of commercial, institutional, industrial and residential construction, and including 30 corporate head offices. It has another 15 million square feet under development.