For better or worse, Downtown Montreal is going to look very different in the coming years due to a new building project being pushed forth by the City of Montreal.

On the "better" side of things, we have more pedestrian zones, green spaces, a new park, and skyscrapers to look forward to.

But, as with anything construction-related in this city, all that  good stuff will also go hand-in-hand with seemingly never-ending rows of orange cones, hence the "or worse."

Still, that doesn't mean we're not excited for the Quartier des gares urban renewal project which will give a facelift to certain parts of Downtown Montreal, while also transforming the city's existing skyline.

Through this redevelopment of Downtown Montreal's southwest-sector, the City of Montreal aims to increase the well-being of citizens, while actively creating more business opportunities. And while there are many elements to the Quartier des gares building project, (you can read them all for yourself in the city's report here) what has us most excited is below.

A New Skyline For Montreal

Centered around the Bell Centre, Montreal will see more than a few new high-in-the-sky structures, which will actually be higher than ever before.

While the building project's leaders didn't get the "ok" from the municipal government in creating 210-meter high skyscraper (because nothing can be higher than the mountain, 232 meters in height), they are officially allowed to reach a height of 170 meters high.

This new height regulation will only be allowed on Sainte-Antoine, between de la Montagne and Peel.

Some of the proposed buildings include:

  • Le Rocabella: two 40-storey buildings consisting of residential units, a shopping complex, and underground parking. (René-Lévesque b/w Drummond and de la Montagne)
  • L’Avenue: 50-storey building, 325 residential units with shops (and possibly offices) on the ground floors. (1275 Canadiens-de-Montreal)
  • La Tour des Canadiens-de-Montréal: 48-storey hotel and condo-complex combo, will boast 534 housing units. (1280 avenue des Canadiensde-Montréal)

A New Pedestrian Walkway

Amid all the condos and skyscrapers going up in the downtown area, it's also nice to know that us lowly pedestrians will also be getting something beneficial in the Quartier des gares building project plan, namely a new pedestrian walkway

L'Avenue des Canadiens will become a no car zone in the proposed plan, with the city modelling the new walkway after Jeanne-Mance in Quartier des Spectacles. The goal is to increase the level of safety for pedestrians around the Bell Centre, while also bettering walking traffic.


Adding More Green To Downtown: Parc Ville-Marie

But far better than a small street for pedestrians is the proposed creation of Parc Ville-Marie, which will add a much-needed natural flair to the streets of Downtown Montreal.

With a total area equivalent to Dorchester Square and Place du Canada, Parc Ville-Marie project will include the construction of various pedestrian paths, the planting of more than 750 trees, and various gardens all spread over several smaller islands.

The image below gives a great overview of exactly what's going to be built, and where:


When Will This All Be Done?

Okay, so granted this is Montreal we're talking about, a place where building project deadlines are much more of a fluid concept than a fixed date, so take some of this info with a grain of salt.

But, according to the Quartier des gares report, the initial phase of the building project is going to start this spring, and cost a total of $45 million.

This first phase will focus on the redevelopment of de la Montagne, Drummond, and De la Gauchetière from the Bell Centre to René-Lévesque. Subterranean infrastructure, widening of sidewalks, planting of trees, and installing street furniture are all on the docket for the first phase, which should be finished by 2018.

Everything else won't take much longer, apparently. The project report cites a five year timeline to get the Quartier des gares project completed, but they also predict monetary returns (from $20 million to $26 million) by 2020.

So if all things go smoothly, we could be looking at a very new Montreal skyline, and Downtown, in just a few short years. Well, lets hope so.

*Photos courtesy of Ville de Montreal

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