Save Griffintown!


News Update: Downsized Projet Griffintown to Proceed by ajkandy
February 18, 2009, 2:26 pm
Filed under: city council, developers, Devimco, economics, griffintown, news, press conference

Devimco’s Projet Griffintown will proceed in a greatly reduced and modified fashion, say spokespeople for the developer and the City of Montreal. According to information released at recent press events, a downsized Projet Griffintown will be built on approximately 30% of the originally planned surface area, starting in 2010, in stages.

The new project will abandon the high-profile shopping centre to focus on canalside residential and office developments, to be built on land already owned by Devimco south of Wellington Street. It’s not entirely clear, but it does appear that Devimco will release its options to purchase / expropriate land north of Wellington, which has land and property owners upset that their ability to sign new leases or develop their own properties was frozen by the city, with little to no compensation.

Linda Gyulai, reporting in The Gazette:

“The economic situation is difficult, and despite this we’re announcing we’re going ahead with our project,” Devimco spokesman André Bouthillier, said. “There aren’t many other developers announcing good news these days.”

Devimco will invest at least $300 million in the first phase of the project, beginning in 2010, he said. Meanwhile, Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s administration held a hastily organized news conference at city hall to deny the project has sunk.

“There’s no real change,” said city executive committee member Luis Miranda, who is responsible for major development projects. “The Griffintown project for us is not closed. It’s not a file we’re abandoning.”

Meanwhile, Benoit Labonté, opposition city councillor and borough mayor of Ville-Marie, blasted the Tremblay administration for its lack of long-term economic vision, and its willingness to put all its eggs in the baskets of real-estate megaprojects, in a press release:

“Alors que l’horizon économique s’assombrit, l’administration Tremblay demeure encore une fois impuissante à agir avec fermeté et audace, afin de préserver le développement de l’économie montréalaise, comme elle a été impuissante à la faire progresser au cours des sept dernières années”, a exprimé le maire Labonté. “Il est vrai que les conditions économiques actuelles rendent le développement de tels projets plus difficile. Cependant, une administration responsable, possédant un minimum de vision, aurait, depuis des mois, mis en place une stratégie de développement pouvant répondre efficacement à l’adversité et ne se serait pas uniquement fié aux grands projets immobiliers ou commerciaux”, a déclaré le chef de l’Opposition officielle.

More news and links, including some reaction from property owners:

Le Devoir: Un autre clou dans le cerceuil…
Journal de Montreal: Des propriétaires excédés
Journal de Montreal: Le mégaprojet se dégonfle
La Presse: Le projet Griffintown se fera par étapes
Radio-Canada: Griffintown: Comme un peau de chagrin

Devimco’s press release in French and English.



Fresh horses!* Griffintown hearings continue tonight, set to go all week by ajkandy

The comments-and-briefs-submitting period of the Griffintown consultation process kicks off tonight at 7pm, and with the huge number of respondents set to offer their views, I estimate that instead of wrapping it up in one or two nights, it could stretch to the end of the week or further. Now’s the time to get your word in, or simply observe the process.

The Committee for the Sustainable Redevelopment of Griffintown will be presenting second-up this evening. They’ll be submitting a brief including both a written critique of the proposal, as well as a vision statement for a more sustainable, organically developed and locally-focused community. The brief will be available on their blog after this evening, I believe.

The Committee’s also going to stage a press conference at 6:15 PM in front of the ETS, and will be bringing a calèche and horse to underline the importance of the Griffintown Horse Palace as a living legacy of the area’s Victorian industrial past. They’ll also be asking attendees to sign their petition asking for a better, more democratic process for the Griffintown project.

In other news, I was photographed, along with Chris and Judith Gobeil (and their dog, Andy) down at Saint Ann’s Park, with the Five Roses sign in the background, for the cover of the Montreal Mirror. The story’s being expanded so it’ll appear the week of the 20th.

Chris was also interviewed on CBC’s Radio Noon today, helping to explain how we are yes-for-dense-development, but no-on-oversized-shopping-centres. CBC.ca is also working on a more in-depth story for their online news division.

See you at the ETS tonight!

*A random, but appropriate quote from Brian Blessed as King Richard, in the first series of Blackadder.

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