Saturday, April 18, 2009
Talk of Renewal
Cadillac Fairview is planning to develop "an intermodal and multipurpose urban development hub" around the Bell Centre and Windsor Station, sources have confirmed to The Gazette. La Presse reported yesterday that the commercial real-estate arm of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and a numbered company co-owned by one of its representatives, Salvatore Iacono, have purchased a series of lots around the concert and sports venue, some of the properties in a state of disrepair Iacono of Davin Capital Corp. and Cadillac Fairview spokespersons and executives did not return calls seeking comment on the plan. Michel Spénard of Canadian Pacific, which put Windsor Station up for sale two years ago, also did not return calls Heritage Montreal spokesman Dinu Bumbaru said that "there had been rumours for quite a while about something like this." "But I don't know why we have to hear about it (piecemeal) like this," he added. "The city of Montreal should be more dynamic and involved." He speculated that the tramway project along Peel St. might have been an incentive for the Cadillac Fairview plan But the sticking point, he said, was "Windsor Station, the gateway of the whole project." As a protected heritage site, the underground vaults would have to be preserved, "which might present restrictions on renovations." Detailed plans for the elaborate, multi-level development project show that it would include shops, entertainment venues, residential areas, office space, a hotel, parking and a new train terminal, presumably at Windsor Station for the Dorion-Rigaud commuter line The only lot that has yet to be purchased to assemble all the land needed to complete the project is Parking Jack, a parking lot owned by Jack Ben-Sabat His daughter Rachel confirmed that her father was holding out for a better offer, but she did not expandBen-Sabat later said that he "wasn't interested" in speaking about the matter: The City of Montreal should not be facilitating any projects involving the Ontario Teacher Pension Plan. This group is known for reneging on their agreements and commitments. How quickly we forget their plans and legal commitments last year to buy BCE only to back down and reneging on their promised $2 billion break-up fee. The OTPP is untrustworthy and Montreal should seek out more reliable developers to bring this project to fruition. Putting the Bell Centre where it is and removing trains from Windsor Station was not only terrible urban planning, but an insult. It destroyed the area around the old forum and and really ruinded the area around Windsor Station. Moving the trains to Lucien l'Allier station was a waste of money. Now we have another grand sceam to improve the area. Sounds like the cure is worse than the disease. Now we have a secret solution? Something is wrong. The solution is to remove the Bell Centre ,and put the arena somewhere else, where it truely belongs, and restore the station and the area around it to it's former glory. With the Canadians up for sale this could be a golden opportunity. Is this the best that the city can do for one of the worlds great train stations? The whole world is watching. This makes sense for all sorts of reasons. To function, retail either needs to offer big retailers cheap rent, however, in this case a train station is a determined destination and people are forced to walk through the centre. With this in mind, Cadillac will develop montreal's newest most impressive urban regional mall within a heritage complex and benefit from the residential growth in griffintown, the expansion of Concordia, and the long-term office development in the surrounding node. Montrealers should support this project as we need to develop a penn station to complement our Grand Central. I am confident that these experts will pull it off, and for those that think that we do not need more retail, and that ste-catherine will suffer, wake up and smell the coffee, we should not and do not need to protect anyone from a little healthy competition.