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1 Square Phillips joins battle to be Montreal’s highest condo

With more than 75 per cent of its condo units sold in Phase 1, Brivia Group has kicked off constr...

IMAGE: Brivia Group has kicked off construction of the 1 Square Phillips condominiums. At 61 storeys, Brivia claims it will be the city's tallest residential tower. (Courtesy Brivia Group)

Brivia Group has kicked off construction of the 1 Square Phillips condominiums and apartments. At 61 storeys, Brivia claims it will be the city’s tallest residential tower. (Courtesy Brivia Group)

With more than 75 per cent of its condo units sold in Phase 1, Brivia Group has kicked off construction of its 1 Square Phillips project in downtown Montreal that it says will include the tallest residential tower in the city.

The $560-million first phase of 1 Square Phillips, consisting of a 61-storey tower with 498 condos and 298 rental units, was launched with a July 16 groundbreaking ceremony at the site. Masks with the project logo were distributed to guests at the outdoor event.

It will be built between Place Phillips and Saint-Alexandre Street in the block between Sainte-Catherine Street and René-Lévesque Boulevard. The first phase will be delivered in 2024.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, “Montreal has been on an upward path for several years in terms of real estate development and we continue to firmly believe in our city,” Kheng Ly, founder, president and CEO of Brivia Group, said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

He noted 1 Square Phillips has been receiving “tremendous positive response” from the market.

Battle to be Montreal’s highest condo tower

The 1 Square Phillips and Devimco’s Maestria condo development on Sainte-Catherine Street have kicked off a marketing war as to which project will be the tallest residential project in the city.

According to Devimco, Maestria, which will consist of 58- and 61-storey towers connected by a skybridge, will have the highest residential tower in the city.

However, Brivia says 1 Square Phillips will reach a height of 763 feet above sea level and also include a 61-storey tower.

“Technically, we’re the highest,” Vincent Kou, vice-president, corporate development at Brivia, said in an interview. (Buildings in Montreal can not exceed 764 feet, which is the height of Mount Royal.)

Kou said the 70 per cent condo sales target Brivia established to begin construction of 1 Square Phillips was reached before the coronavirus pandemic was declared. The pandemic has had “no impact” on the project and has not resulted in any design changes.

“There was some slowdown (in sales) when everything was shut down, but the long-term perspective is very strong.”

Brivia acquired site from Canderel

Brivia paid $45 million in 2018 to buy the 79,864-square-foot property at 1201-1215 Place Phillips from Canderel. Canderel, which purchased the parking lot site in 2015, was planning an office tower with retail space at the base.

BMO and the Bank of China (Canada) are the financial partners of 1 Square Phillips.

Overall, the project will consist of three phases. Phase 2 “is still a work in progress. We’re still planning the right time to launch.”

Condos in the development range from 400 to 4,000 square feet.

Buyers in the first phase have included young professionals who want to live close to work, students and retirees seeking a downtown condo without having to compromise on space, Kou said: “That’s why we have a lot of big units (with three bedrooms).”

Foreign buyers represent between 10 and 12 per cent of sales.

The condos sell from $800 to $900 per square foot. Rental rates have not been established for the rental units which will be in the first 20 storeys of the tower.

Airbnb rentals are not permitted, Kou said.

1 Square Phillips amenities

IMAGE: Artist's conception of a view from Brivia Group's 1 Square Phillips condominiums, a 61-storey tower now under construction in downtown Montreal. (Courtesy Brivia Group)

Artist’s conception of a view from Brivia Group’s 1 Square Phillips condominiums, a 61-storey tower now under construction in downtown Montreal. (Courtesy Brivia Group)

Amenities include about 10,000 square feet of common areas on the 50th floor, including a lounge and outdoor garden.

There will be lockers for Amazon-type parcels (some refrigerated), a pool, water features, spa, gym, yoga studio, lounge and juice bar, a dog park and heated walkways.

1 Square Phillips will bring more than 1,000 residents downtown and contribute to strengthening the downtown core, which is home to 40,000 residents, said Emile Roux, executive director of Destination Centre-Ville, which promotes downtown Montreal.

He noted at the groundbreaking that downtown Montreal, which normally has a workforce of 400,000, has been hard hit by the pandemic, with people working from home.

Brivia Group’s other developments

Now in its 20th year, Brivia has developed and is currently building several rental and condo projects in downtown Montreal, including YUL and QuinzeCent on René-Lévesque, Stanbrooke on Stanley Street and NEST on Crescent Street.

Last year, Brivia acquired the Mansfield Athletic Club, site of the historic former Loews Theatre, built in the early 1900s, on Ste-Catherine Street West and Mansfield Street in downtown Montreal.

Mansfield “is still a work in progress,” Kou said. Brivia is “working closely with the city” to determine the right product to put on the market and what elements of the structure will be maintained.

The developer also has an upcoming project on Lincoln Street downtown and projects in other areas of the city, including Notre Dame de Grâce and Pointe-Claire.

“We’re also expanding slowly outside of Montreal,” Kou noted.

Brivia recently completed Condos LB9, a 216-rental unit development in Quebec City, and will be entering the Toronto area with a condo and rental project off Highway 7 in Markham, he said.   

Like Brivia founder Kheng Ly, Kou immigrated to Canada from Cambodia.

Kou grew up in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region of Quebec and is a law school graduate from Université de Sherbrooke. He worked for Rio Tinto Alcan in Asia before joining Brivia three years ago.

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