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St. George's wants to develop 'excess land'

St. George's wants to develop 'excess land'


Land located in popular area for condos; community hall would likely be torn down

The historic St. George's Anglican Church is looking for a partner to develop part of its prime downtown site, located across from the Bell Centre in what's becoming a growing hub for condo development.

The 1869 Gothic Revival church, which is said to take up about a quarter of the 36,460-square-foot site, is looking at ways to redevelop some of its "excess land," including an aging community hall, located between Stanley and Peel Sts. and Canadiens-de-Montreal Ave., a sales brochure published by real estate services firm CBRE Ltd. said. The development of the site, possibly as condos, would likely involve the demolition of the community hall, one Montreal real estate source familiar with the project said.

"The site is perfectly located in the central business district ... with the benefit of an impressive contrast of old and new architecture," the brochure reads.

A CBRE broker referred a reporter to church officials who couldn't be reached for comment on Thursday.

The development plan would generate revenues to help renovate the aging building, which was designated a national historic site in 1990 and is the only survivor among five Protestant churches that once ringed Dorchester Square, formerly called Dominion Square, a Gazette report said. The church received a $425,000 federal subsidy in February to rebuild its portico.

The development project comes at a time when a growing number of religious institutions are struggling to cover costs, as worshippers dwindle. While St. George's would not be touched, some former churches in other parts of the city have already been converted to condos.

The activist group Heritage Montreal is especially concerned about the future of these religious institutions, which often have distinctive architecture and rich histories. "There's been an appalling abandonment (of these buildings)," said Heritage Montreal policy director Dinu Bumbaru, who was not familiar with the development plan at St. George's.

"This is something that re-quires preventive action."

Once a residential sector, the area around the church is now becoming an increasingly diverse mix of office and condo towers.

Already, four different residential condo projects are planned for the area around the Bell Centre. These include: the Roccabella twin tower project with more than 500 units at the corner of René Lévesque Blvd. and de la Montagne St. and the Icône project with more than 300 units across the street.

As The Gazette reported, developer Broccolini Construction Inc. and an equity partner are looking for a buyer to purchase the hotel component of a mixed residential tower on a former parking lot located just west of the church. A fourth condo project, to be developed by Cadillac Fairview Ltd., with Canderel and the Quebec Federation of Labour's Fonds de solidarité is expected to be announced this summer.

alampert @montrealgazette.com

Twitter: @RealDealMtl