As Robert Vezina describes it, Montreal’s downtown used to be dotted with no man’s lands – parking lots and other underdeveloped sites that scarred its core.
“All that is really changing in a really positive way,” he says. “All these blocks left to no use for many years are now being filled up.”
Vezina will get to show the public just how much Montreal’s cityscape is changing at his Montréal du Futur (Montreal of the Future) event, which features illustrations, renderings, 3D scale models and virtual presentations of a number of projects under construction, approved or planned.
It will be held May 29 to June 4 in the lobby and in a tent on the exterior plaza of the 1250 René Lévesque office tower (click for a map to the site). Coincidentally, Bentall Kennedy acquired 1250 René Lévesque, a 47-storey office tower with more than one million square feet of office space, from Oxford Properties earlier this month.
The event is open to the public and free of charge, and Vezina expects thousands of visitors daily.
Much of the content centres on the downtown area “because that’s where the most building is happening,” he says.
“High-rises and more big projects”
Vezina, president of Cities of the Future Management and the PR and event firm RJV Communications, has been holding Montréal du Futur every two years since 2006.
In its early years, the event concentrated on developments like hospitals, museums, roads and parks, as construction cranes were few to be found in the downtown core. “We really scraped to get content from that kind of stuff to complement the exhibition. But, now it’s more high-rises and more big projects.”
Montréal du Futur was previously held at Complexe Desjardins on the eastern fringe of downtown, but the new venue in the heart of the business district has increased the number of sponsors and “the profile of the event is a little bit more corporate.” Most of the city’s major developers or their architectural firms are participating as exhibitors.
There is a lot to show, transforming the gaps in what used to be “a kind of a mix and match that wasn’t making a cohesive downtown area,” Vezina says.
The new projects will “help with the overall look of the skyline,” he says. “The whole downtown core is going to look much better.”
Featured projects at Montreal du Futur
Among the projects to be presented at Montréal du Futur:
* Three major towers near the Tour de la Bourse tower off Victoria Square – Broccolini’s 58-storey Victoria Sur le Parc at 788 Saint-Jacques St. – the tallest residential tower in Montreal, Broccolini’s 35-storey 628 St. Jacques condo, and the new 40-storey head office of National Bank, at 800 Saint-Jacques St. “That block is the biggest development right now,” Vezina says. “That whole area was a no-man’s land for years and years”;
* The Maestria condo development by Devimco that will consist of two 55- and 58-storey towers linked by an aerial skyway. The site on Ste. Catherine Street between Jeanne Mance and Bleury Streets was home to the former Spectrum concert hall and a parking lot;
* Brivia Group’s 36-storey, 428-unit Quinzecent condo development at 1500 René Lévesque Boulevard West, on the corner of Guy Street. “That’s going to fill a big hole in the skyline of Montreal,” Vezina says. “It’s really on the strategic corner of Guy and René Lévesque”;
* The second of two 38-storey towers in Brivia’s 800 condo-unit YUL development on René Lévesque Boulevard West;
* The $200-million, multi-use Humaniti project next to the Palais des Congrès convention centre in the Quartier International area. Developed by Cogir Real Estate, DevMcGill and the Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ, the 39-storey tower incorporates 158 condos, 314 apartments, a 193-room Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel, 57,000 square feet of office space and 17,000 square feet of lower-level retail;
* Tour des Canadiens 3, the third Montreal Canadiens-branded condo tower, near the Bell Centre and part of the Cadillac-Fairview spearheaded Quad Windsor project;
* The Laurent & Clark condo development by Rachel Julien, consisting of 21-and 26-storey towers on de Maisonneuve and St. Laurent Boulevards, in the Quartier des Spectacles area;
* Several projects outside the downtown core will also be presented, including the new Champlain Bridge, Turcot Interchange and REM light-rail train.
Future events in Toronto and Vancouver
Vezina is also organizing the third Toronto of the Future event, which starts June 24 and runs until July 1 at Metro Hall, at the corner of Wellington and John Streets. The event was last held in the city in 2017.
The top presenting sponsor is The One by Mizrahi Developments, an 82-storey retail and condo building at One Bloor Street West that will reach 1,005 feet, making it Canada’s tallest tower.
In addition, Vezina is planning to hold the first Vancouver of the Future event next year. It will focus on the Greater Vancouver area because “Vancouver is booming – not just downtown but everywhere else.”