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Prime downtown Montreal parking lot fetches $14 million

Prime downtown Montreal parking lot fetches $14 million


The parking lot that faces the Bell Centre may become the home of a 50-storey tower.

The parking lot that faces the Bell Centre may become the home of a 50-storey tower.

Photograph by: Dario Ayala, Gazette files

MONTREAL - A parking lot across from the Bell Centre has fetched one of downtown Montreal’s highest prices for land in the last five years, reflecting continued demand for sites in prime locations with sky-high zoning potential.

The 31,822-square-foot site on Ave. des Canadiens, between de la Montagne and Drummond Sts., sold for $14.1 million last week, real estate services firm CBRE Ltd. said.

Per square foot, it’s more than what most Montrealers would pay these days for a mid-priced condo.

The land was sold by Modico Canada Ltd. and Stationnement Modico Inc. to a Montreal developer backed by a Toronto equity partner.

The land fetched a high price because it could be used for anything from a 40-storey condo tower to a hotel to a giant bar where Habs fans could congregate after a game.

“It’s a site that can support any use,” said Brett Miller, CBRE’s executive vice-president and regional managing director for eastern Canada.

And just as Montreal-area condo starts and resales both hit record high levels in 2011, so have sales of the land used mostly in the construction of new residential towers. In the Greater Montreal Area, the sales volume of high density land, located mostly in the downtown core, rose to almost $161 million in 2011, from just over $152 million in 2010, CBRE figures show.

Miller said deals like the Modico lot transaction, which follow detailed market studies, prove that development is still strong in the Montreal area, despite remarks from some analysts and builders who say they are expecting softer sales in 2012 compared to previous years.

“It shows that among people in the know ... there’s the conviction that the market has strength.”

This week, the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards forecast a two per cent rise in provincial housing sales, along with price increases slightly above inflation.

According to the Teranet-National Bank house price index released Wednesday, Canadian house prices dropped 0.2 per cent in November 2011 for the first time in nearly a year.

The national composite index, which tracks registered prices of homes sold at least twice, shows prices rose .4 per cent in Montreal, but fell in eight of the 11 metropolitan markets tracked – one more than in October.

The Financial Post contributed to this story.