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Land Redevelopment Technopole Angus’ Success

Land Redevelopment Technopole Angus’ Success



BY LUCIANO D’IORIO, SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE

The closure of Shell’s oil refining operations in Montreal-East this past winter is making headlines again as the Quebec government has approved Shell’s request for the dismantling of its refining installations at Shell’s Montreal-East property. This move is a critical step in Shell’s future plans for the site, part of which will most likely see redevelopment. Critics are concerned that the jobs Shell has abolished will never be replaced. The community is anxious about what the future will hold. Surely community groups, politicians and unions will want to engage in some interesting discussions about urban planning, land use and economic development in this particular part of the island. One wonders what do we, as a collective, do when such a large tract of privately-held land, used by one industry suddenly becomes available for redevelopment? Perhaps the folks at Shell and the City of Montreal-East can draw inspiration from la Société de développement Angus.

As one of the region’s biggest development success stories over the past decade, the Société’s Technopole Angus rose from a contaminated railyard, to what it is today. Abandoned by CP Rail in 1992, leaving 1000 workers unemployed, community stakeholders back then expressed concern over the site’s future. After a brief stint as the home of a Cirque du Soleil Big Top show, the redevelopment of the former railway yards began to take shape. Today, the Technopole Angus has become a vibrant, LEED-certified business park and neighbourhood that has seen 12 buildings retrofitted or built since it opened as a multitenant development in 1998.

In a recent overview of the state of the Eastern Montreal commercial real estate market conducted for industry publication Espace Montreal, the project’s success is being reflected in a vacancy of 4.6 per cent. This is the lowest vacancy in any business park in this sector of the city. Vacancy for the Montreal Centre East Region currently stands at 22 percent.

So what is the secret to their success given that no incentives or goodies were doled out to prospective tenants? Christian Yaccarini, President of Société de développement Angus tells us there are “two or three recipes for success.”

“Patience of its investors that are long term players” and being “very very close to listen to current and prospective tenants.”

“Tenants are not only renting space, but they are helping us to create a milieu de vie.”

Perhaps another element of their success was the highly mediatised closing of the rail yards. Everyone wanted a say in the redevelopment, driving much needed attention to the site and to their first building at 4200 Andre-Laurendeau. Tenants bought into the loft concept while being part of the area’s renaissance.

The Angus Technopole is seeing steady leasing demand from existing tenants as well as newcomers to the business park and region. The park is one of the offers one of the few built to suit options in the area. Several new multi-tenant office building opportunities at Angus are now in the pre-leasing stage and all will be LEED certified. As a further incentive, the park offers the City of Montreal’s “PRAM-Industrie” tax incentive package. This package, available in certain sectors of the City of Montreal, offers landlords a 5 year property tax credit for landlords who construct, convert or expand their buildings. Perhaps their biggest challenge over the next few quarters will be to help meet the space demand of their existing tenants who now number 56.

Certainly companies that are looking to redevelop their land can learn from the experiences that Technopole Angus has lived. Thirteen years after its inauguration, Angus stands as a vibrant business park having created twice the jobs from Locoshops 1992 work force of 1000. Shell’s critics need not worry, there is life after death!