Settled at the beginning of the XIXth century by Irish immigrants who built Montreal’s canals and bridges, Griffintown is named after Mary Griffin, who was said to have stolen the property titles of this lot. When the St-Lawrence inland waterways became the entrance to the city, Griffintown was classified as an industrial zone and was depopulated down to 810 inhabitants in 1971. However, the neighbourhood has regained momentum thanks to new condos, an influx of gourmet hidden gems and Fashion week in Montreal, all playing a role in its “trendiness”. Let’s just call it luck of the Irish!
EnRoute Magazine just profiled Montreal’s Griffintown as one of Canada’s up-and-coming neighbourhoods. It has a sketchy past but it’s gone from being essentially an industrial park to a place where some of the most talked about restaurants and shops are moving in, as well as residents. En Route’s Laura Osborne spoke with Sonali Karnick.
“The neighbourhood of the hour in Montreal is Griffintown, hands down. It is located on the south side of Downtown Montreal and west side of the Bonaventure highway, bordering the Lachine Canal. What is currently happening in Griffintown has never been seen in the history of the development of Montreal”, declared Mayor Dorais, Mayor of the borough before the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie du Sud-Ouest. This is a radical transformation of a vast territory whose attractiveness is phenomenal”
Griffintown is largely known by the public today because of a major project built by Devimco who is considered a leader in Griffintown’s revitalization as well as one of the largest developers. Devimco is setting forth a pioneering living concept integrating businesses, offices, hotels as well as restaurants. Devimco, in collaboration with McGill Real Estate, a real estate agency, just launched the 4th phase of the District Griffin project sooner than anticipated due to an accelerated sales rate sustained by a strong demand. Visit the largest sales office in Canada at the corner Peel and Wellington.
District Griffin: investors barely at 5%
Monday, October 1st, 2012
Serge Goulet, President of Devimco, is the first one to be astonished by the fact that District Griffin does not attract a lot of investors. This mega complex, whose construction is progressing full force, will add up to between 1800 and 2000 condos in Grifintown. “Thus, barely 5% of the buyers of the first three phases are investors”, indicated Mr. Goulet who was interviewed this afternoon. “It’s surprising, considering all the hype around Griffintown”, he said. Devimco forthright asks its buyers whether they will live in their condo once the construction is complete. The survey reveals that 95% will be occupying-owners in this project. Although impossible to verify, some sources say that about 15% of new condo buyers are investors in Montreal, which is much less than in Toronto and Vancouver. Whatever the case, Devimco is very happy with the sales made thus far at District Griffin. The team even moved forward the launch of Phase 4, which was held last Saturday. “A few hundred people were in attendance and more than 40 condos were sold”, indicated Serge Goulet. The first phase of the project (188 condos) is sold at 90%, the second one (114 condos) is at 70% and the third (135 condos) is at 40%, specified the developer. Serge Goulet is watching the slowing down of the market closely but specifies that demand is still steady. Prices at District Griffin, at about $385 a square foot before taxes, allow the project to set itself apart from others around the Bell Centre, according to the developer. These luxurious towers are rather asking for between $500 and $600.
The City of Montreal finally has a plan to outline the development of Griffintown. The Special Planning Programme (SPP) project of Downtown’s neighbouring borough was unveiled Thursday.
New public spaces, conservation of inheritance, arteries uniting the boroughs, 100 million dollars worth of investments, the Programme answers to all the main criticism on the unrestrained real estate development. The SPP project will be studied in Public Consultation at the beginning of next year.
> 6 parks and places
Six new public spaces, parks or places, are planned for on and around mostly Ottawa Street.
> 93 million dollars
Investments of 93 million dollars, over four years, namely for the purchase of new properties for State Property. In all, 47 actions are stated in the SPP, starting from walkways to the opening of streets.
> 8000 residential units
There are 1500 residential units in Griffintown. Another 8000 are planned for, among which 4700 are already approved. The commercially occupied areas should go from 30 000 to 180 000 m2.
No property was set aside for schools, however “school boards and private schools” are interested, according to Michael Appelbaum, President of the City’s Executive Committee.
The Horse Palace stable, formerly the urban stable of the continent (1862), will be acquired to be transformed into a “commemorative green space”, a project that was mentioned at the end of the summer followed by rumours of it being demolished. The safekeeping of the stable is already guaranteed.
> Cultural corridor
A “cultural corridor” will be set up on William and Ottawa Streets. The height of the building is revised to be lower on the northern side of the sector.
The former Lower Lachine Street will be transformed into Smith Promenade, a walkway, to join Griffintown and Old Montreal under the train tracks according to last spring’s architectural contest Laureate prize-winner’s plans.
(….)Because everyone wants to move there and call it home. Voir proposes a guided tour of the Griffintown neighbourhood (…)
Located in the southwestern part of Montreal, Griffintown is bordered by the Lachine Canal and Notre Dame Street, a few hundred yards away from Old Montreal and Downtown Montreal. Condos are springing up all over the place. But before becoming a hip district, The Griff was known as a working and industrial sector.
«It was Montreal’s first suburb. And it was also there that the first North American grid design of streets was planned”, explains the Committee for Sustainable Redevelopment of Griffintown’s spoke-person, Jeffrey Dungen. In the 19th century, several penniless Irishmen who participated in the building of the Lachine Canal and the Victoria Bridge, inhabited it. “It became the cradle of the industrial revolution in Canada because of the Lachine Canal.
Griffintown became the buzzword
The neighbourhood started to be revitalized at the turning of the 21st century thanks to the Lachine Canal being accessible for yachting, to municipal projects at the Recollets Faubourg, the Cité Multimédia and the establishment l’École de technologie supérieure in the Dow-O’Keefe Brewery.
And then, there was the first condo project. “Devimco, a real estate developer, submitted a project to the city who decided to make a special urbanism plan”, says the Mayor of the South-West Borough, Benoit Dorais. The sector was therefore de-zoned, in order to increase the residential portion, allowing for development more in height and density. “This created a craze and awoke the other real estate contractors. There was a chain effect,” (…)
Other than its trendy reputation and its strategic geographical location, it is especially Griffintown’s historical side that gives it its charm. “Emphasis must be put on this history, affirms Jeffrey Dungen. Most of the residents are very happy that this neighbourhood became so popular. The fact that more and more are talking about it makes its history known.” (…)
(…) “It wasn’t everyone that agreed to go ahead with the construction of the tower of condos in Griffintown. Personnally, I find that the neighbourhood needs life, therefore residences. Creating a city, takes a certain density. It’s not like building a suburb.» affirms Paul-Émile Rioux, who has been living in The Griff for the past 25 years. Knowing this neighbourhood inside out, this artist and photographer mentions a few interesting addresses among the (quite) numerous real estate projects. (…)
Lead by the real estate development company Devimco, District Griffin is a multiphase project whose fourth phase was just launched. “Since Devimco was responsible for most of the rezoning of Griffintown in order to revitalize it, it laid its hands on beautiful green spaces and properties near the waterfront”, emphasizes Patrice Groleau, owner of McGill Real Estate, in charge of the sales of the project.
According to town planning based on today’s reality, Devimco usually sets its residential towers on two commercial floors occupied by basic services businesses (pharmacy, grocery store, etc.) Sold starting at $385 a square foot, the condos are offered in an assortment of models and with different layouts, among which some units include three bedrooms and an office.
(…) “There are not many rentals on the territory where Griffintown is establishing itself. In fact, there were never that many houses since it was a working sector. Practically no rentals are being built in the new development. Which is the case a little all over Montreal nowadays” explains Paul-Émile Rioux, the artist, owner of a building in Griffintown which houses her home, workshop and a few apartments. “It’s possible to rent in the neighbourhood but difficult to find. Griffintown’s largest rental area is currently the student residence of l’École de technologie supérieure.”
Paul-Émile Rioux never hesitates to recommend Griffintown to whomever who would like to move there. “A truly fun neighbourhood is being born.” (…)