George Vouloumanos hopes when people walk by his 334-unit Hemisphere purpose-built rental project on Greater Montreal’s West Island, they’ll say “Those guys did it right. That's a great project.”
He views the $140 to $150 million development at 275 Hymus Blvd. in Pointe-Claire as “a generational asset. It's something that I'm building for my kids and their kids.”
Vouloumanos is CEO of Apollo Microwaves, which once had its office, assembly room and warehouse at the site, but has since decamped to neighbouring Dorval. Apollo Microwaves designs and manufactures a wide range of standard and custom-engineered microwave components and sub-systems for the satellite and wireless communication industries.
“Quite a few years ago we saw that the area was moving toward residential, so we saw a really great opportunity especially as densification increased (and the nearby Pointe-Claire REM station was announced)," he says.
“It’s a really nice-sized property that allows us to build a really great project in what is a fantastic location.”
The Hemisphere development
Scheduled to be delivered in two phases starting in summer 2025, Hemisphere will take the form of an H, and be comprised of two 10-storey buildings connected by a one-storey podium containing a variety of amenities.
Six to eight per cent of the units will be three-bedrooms and the rest will be split about equally between one- and two-bedrooms.
Typical one-bedrooms will range from 670 to about 800 square feet, two-bedrooms from 850 to 1,000 square feet and three-bedrooms will be about 1,200 square feet. Rents will average $2.40 to $2.45 per square foot per month and include amenities, appliances and Internet.
The project will attract a wide variety of renters, from empty nesters, retirees and people at the end of careers to young professionals and young families, says Benjamin Sternthal, founder and president of Kodem, Hemisphere’s development manager.
Kodem is managing the project’s design and construction, as well as its marketing and leasing.
“We want to accommodate for all in our unit mix, not just because it's easier to fill a building that way, but also because it creates a dynamic environment,” Sternthal says.
“Having one type of person in a project for me is very static. Having young people, young professionals, elderly people, that's true urban living.
"That’s really what we’re going after.”
Hemisphere part of MLI Select program
The project has been approved by CMHC's MLI Select mortgage loan insurance program program, which among its requirements stipulates the building surpass conventional energy efficiency standards by 25 per cent.
In addition, 10 per cent of the units will comply with MLI Select’s affordability component by being priced at a maximum of 30 per cent of median renter income.
Hemisphere will include a full suite of amenities including a lap pool, fitness centre, thermal circuit, yoga room, training studio, massage and therapy room, branded lounge and private library with Taschen art books.
There will also be a business centre with huddle rooms, private work booths and a boardroom.
The development property will be 65 per cent greenspace – three times more than required – that will include an exterior terrace, park with bocce courts, community gardens, a dog park, walking trails and outdoor exercise equipment.
There will be 462 parking spots, with two levels of underground parking and visitor parking at grade.
Once a planned bridge is over the north side of Highway 40, the new REM station will be only a few blocks away.
Marketing of the project will step up in May 2024, when a discovery centre opens on the site.
Cogir will manage the property once it is completed.
Lower density, higher quality
Vouloumanos says the project’s quality is an important factor.
“Any discussion has been from the perspective of ‘If I was living there what would I want?’ ” he says. “Instead of going for maximum density we actually have lower density than what's permitted because we wanted to build a higher-quality project.
"We don't want to build something monolithic and large and just maximize for the sake of maximizing. It really needed to be high-end, high-quality, something that I would be proud of.”
Adds Sternthal: “Fifty years down the road I won't be here, but people will look back at at this project and say the guys behind it had the vision to put this together and to implement it.”
In addition to Hemisphere, Vouloumanos is partnering with another private family to develop the Hillside Lane condo development in Westmount.
It will include 31 condos in a converted five-storey former industrial building on Hillside Lane.
He is also an investor in Podium Development Corp.’s planned multifamily rental project at 77 East St. in Oakville, Ont.
Kodem develops hotels and resorts, residential, commercial, industrial, institutional and recreational projects.
Its current projects include the Solstice condo development in downtown Montreal and a residential development for Brivia at Mont Tremblant.
“We do about six to eight projects a year and lately we’re focused on multires,” Sternthal says.
"There is an affordability problem in Montreal and “it's only getting worse. There's a real need for rental units and the industry has to rise to the challenge.”