The Bay will have a lower-than-expected office tower in the city center

In order to respond to criticism from the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OPCM), the owner of the famous La Baie store, on Sainte-Catherine Street, has lowered the height of the office tower that he plans to build at the back of the building. The new version of the project even received the approval of the executive committee on Wednesday.

The original Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) project called for the restoration of the heritage building built in 1891 by the Henry Morgan Company. But the company also wanted to demolish the rear part of the building, added in 1966, in order to build a 25-story office tower with terraces.

However, after consultations last spring, the OCPM decided that the 120-meter tower was too high and risked upsetting the visual balance of the area. This height was almost twice the authorized limit in the area, which was 65 meters. The consultation body also pointed out that the presence of this building would obstruct a view window from Mount Royal.

After discussions with the City, HBC came back with a new proposal for a tower 102 meters high and a slightly reduced land use coefficient. “The project responds to the concerns raised by the OCPM,” said Robert Beaudry, responsible for urban planning on the executive committee. “It allows us to conserve elements of the heritage views from the belvedere [du mont Royal] and that was really the goal. “

To those who would judge this building still too high, the elected representative replied that several buildings on Boulevard de Maisonneuve are very high, including the KPMG tower with its 146 meters. According to Mr. Beaudry, the modifications to the project and the openness demonstrated by the owner ensure the social acceptability of the project. “It was a long process. There were several meetings with the promoter. But that shows that our administration is capable of working with promoters in cases like that, ”he said.

The post-pandemic and maintaining part-time teleworking could reduce the need for downtown office space, but Robert Beaudry believes Class A offices remain in high demand.

The OCPM had also recommended the implementation of measures to take into account the impacts that the site will have on homeless people in this sector of the city. HBC therefore created a round table composed in particular of homelessness specialists, which undertook the development of a community action plan.

” A good hit “

Heritage Montreal had criticized HBC’s initial project during the OCPM consultations, but the organization welcomes the reduction in the height of the tower. “Of course, we find that there are more and more towers in the city center. The challenge is to end up with a wall that hides the river, but also Montérégiennes, ”emphasizes Taïka Baillargeon, deputy director of policies at Héritage Montreal.

She points out that from Mount Royal, the views towards Mont Saint-Bruno and Mont Saint-Hilaire are already obstructed. “Going down 18 meters is still important even if the tower remains high. It’s a good shot, I think. “

Mme Baillargeon is also pleased with the owner’s desire to proceed with the restoration of the heritage building on rue Sainte-Catherine and his intentions regarding the protection of some of the interior decor elements, a component on which the City of Montreal does not. however has no hold. The new configuration of the building will also make it possible to further highlight the neighboring Christ Church. The first version of the project risked “crushing” the church which then found itself in the middle of towers, points out Taïka Baillargeon.

Mme Baillargeon, however, wants the City to stop treating heights of the city center piecemeal and hopes that the work to revise the Master Plan will make it possible to determine clear rules in this regard.

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Reference-www.ledevoir.com

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