Canada’s first home office is up for sale
Montreal — Montreal’s first public-housing project opened in August 2017.
It’s not for sale, but the city is planning to replace it with a more traditional office.
City council voted in December to approve a new public-sector corporation to manage the project, which will include housing for a total of about 1,200 people.
The $100-million project was created by the federal government and a consortium of Quebec companies in the 1960s.
Since then, it’s been the target of a fierce competition to keep it open and a political battle over who should own the building and what it should be used for.
“We were not prepared to lose this project,” said Quebec City Mayor Jean-Yves Duclos.
There are currently 3,000 residents living in public housing, the majority of them seniors.
A few have been able to move out but most were evicted during the recession.
A group of developers are seeking to tear down the site, and Ducloc says that’s where the group is targeting the future.
It will be a new building on an empty lot, said Duclo, and the city will sell it to a developer for about $100 million.
If that developer is successful, he says he plans to build the project as an office, possibly for another tenant.
The project is expected to be finished by 2019, he said.
What we know about the building: The first phase of the project was completed in 1963 and was home to about 1.5 million people.
The first phase was built on a site now used for the municipal hall.
Building construction started in 1962 and expanded in 1964, with more than 1.4 million people living in the units.
By 1984, the city had enough units to house about 2.5 times the city’s population, Duclosi said.
But then, in 1994, it lost a housing trust to a consortium led by Montreal businessman Jean-Claude Gagnon, who built the $150-million Mont-Royal complex.
Gagnons plan for the building was to turn it into a mixed-use tower with a restaurant, a convention centre, offices and housing.
In 1996, the provincial government approved the first phase.
The new building would be the headquarters of the provincial Public Works Department, with an annex for the provincial hospital and a private office for Gagnson.
But Ducloscos said the government never took ownership of the building.
Instead, the developers would be responsible for its upkeep.
Then in 2006, Gagnón, who had built a multimillion-dollar condo tower in Montreal’s downtown core, bought the property for $20 million.
The building’s owner was then the state government of Quebec, which was forced to sell the building in 2014 to pay off a federal loan.
The government has since sold the property.
Last week, the province announced it was cancelling the purchase of the property and will build a new, more affordable tower on the site.