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City agrees to rent space in Brewster building Councillors furious over owner’s dealings with Tremblay

City agrees to rent space in Brewster building

 

Councillors furious over owner’s dealings with Tremblay

City council voted Monday to approve a five-year lease beginning March 1 for 495 square metres of office space in 780 Brewster St. near St. Antoine St.
 

City council voted Monday to approve a five-year lease beginning March 1 for 495 square metres of office space in 780 Brewster St. near St. Antoine St.

Photograph by: Pierre Obendrauf , GAZETTE File Photo

MONTREAL - The city has decided to rent office space in a building that was part of a series of real estate transactions probed by Montreal’s auditor-general two years ago.

City council voted Monday to approve a five-year lease beginning March 1 for 495 square metres of office space in 780 Brewster St. near St. Antoine St.

The city’s real estate arm, the Société d’habitation et de développement de Montréal, bought the building and later sold its stake for less than the building’s fair market value, the city’s auditor-general at the time, Michel Doyon, concluded.

The Sud-Ouest borough became a principal tenant in the building, paying $1.1 million a year.

The auditor-general examined a slew of property deals by the SHDM between 2007 and 2008 after a Gazette investigation into some of the transactions, including the Brewster building.

In his report, the auditor-general called for the police to investigate the transactions.

The city, which plans to move part of its newly centralized human resources operations into the Brewster building, will pay $125,603 a year in rent, including tax, a civil service report that went to city council Monday reads.

The matter drew fury from both sides of council chambers as opposition Projet Montréal councillor Alexander Norris argued that Vincent Chiara, president of the company that’s renting the office space to the city, is a supporter of Gérald Tremblay’s Union Montreal party who hosted a fundraiser for the party in 2005.

A contributor who attended the fundraiser was fined $3,000 by Quebec’s chief electoral officer for illegal donations.

Chiara is suing The Gazette over its December 2008 article on the SHDM’s Brewster transaction.

Tremblay, who accused Norris of “vulgar politics,” said Union Montreal has never been charged with illegal fundraising by the chief electoral officer.

The mayor also berated a political aide of Projet Montréal who handed a Gazette reporter papers in the press gallery during the debate on the lease. He accused the aide, in French, of prepping the reporter (“cuisiner”).

The space to be rented in the Brewster building will allow the city’s human resources department to set up about 100 work stations for online testing of candidates for jobs with the city, the civil service report reads.

The Brewster building is around the corner from 3711 St. Antoine, owned by another company of which Chiara is president, where the city council voted last fall to centralize the city’s human resources division that assesses job candidates.

The city will pay $220 per square-metre in rent in the Brewster building, a savings since it’s below the market value of $290 square-metre, the report says.

The matter will now go to the island council for approval on Thursday.

lgyulai@montrealgazette.com


Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/City+agrees+rent+space+Brewster+building/6188134/story.html#ixzz1n8FeG64T