Public Consultation Office On Seville Project

Indeed it will be very interesting to see the response to this.

MONTREAL – Montreal’s public consultation office is giving a thumbs down to the height of a proposed 25-storey tower at Ste. Catherine and Lambert Closse Sts. and asking the developer behind the renewal of the decaying block of western downtown to find a way to conserve the remnants of the old Seville theatre.

But heritage activists wonder whether city hall will follow the recommendations or let the report to collect dust.The $100-million redevelopment proposal by Claridge Properties Ltd. would benefit the public by revamping a long-neglected eyesore, the Office de la consultation publique concludes in a 55-page report based on hearings it held on the project in April. The report will be presented to the city executive committee Wednesday.

Nevertheless, several improvements need to be made to the project, says the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Gazette.

For instance, the 25-storey tower, the tallest of three highrises the project calls for along Ste. Catherine, should be reduced to 54 metres from a planned 69.7 metres, it says.

The city’s urban plan limits height to 25 metres.

Knocking several floors off the proposed building would preserve the view onto the St. Lawrence River from Cedar Ave. and Côte des Neiges Rd. and allow the building to better integrate with nearby Cabot Square, the report says.

The developer should also make it a priority to preserve remaining heritage elements where they are, it says.

The report says the consultation office is mindful of the precedents that would be created if a building with heritage citation, such as the Seville, is allowed to be razed and if the proposed height of the highrise is allowed.

Claridge is seeking permission to demolish what remains of the 81-year-old Seville, which has been closed since 1985, but reuse some of its elements in the project as a way to pay tribute to it.

“It’s a useful report,” Heritage Montreal policy director Dinu Bumbaru said. “But is the city actually going to follow up? … We don’t know.”

The city has no legal obligation to implement the recommendations, he said. Moreover, successive city administrations allowed the Seville “to suffer and die” under previous owners even though the municipality gave it heritage citation in 1990, he said.

Claridge did not return calls Monday.

The project calls for construction of 635 student housing apartments containing 1,155 rooms, as well as community and recreational space. It calls for one public garden and two private ones. Between the highrises, a six-storey mall along Ste. Catherine would contain commercial space.

The consultation office recommends the mall’s height be dropped to four storeys.

lgyulai@thegazette.canwest.com

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