Devimco Rolls Out “District Griffin”

At a press conference this morning Devimco decided to add some presence down in good ‘ol Griffintown. I am not going to say their marketing department is run by retards, but, seriously, “District Griffin” is about as intelligent a name for the project as calling a project ” District Henriville” in Saint Henri. I couldn’t be there but below are some pictures from good friend, Factotum.
Gerald Tremblay showed no respect for Griffintown, it’s people, and it’s heritage when he approved the original Devimco plan. A lot of people have worked very hard to save Griffintown. They have stood up to City Hall and the developers. They have fought for what they believe in, which used to be an admirable quality in this country. They have demanded that Griffintown be respected. Devimco only respects profits, not people.




See Factotum’s post here.

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18 responses to “Devimco Rolls Out “District Griffin”

  1. That’s a lot of anger only for a name… What’s next? Putting bombs to preserve the old, empty, parking lots of Griffintown?

  2. That sure isn’t much of a rebuttal, MTLskyline, like a little sarcasm from the folks that would like to see Montreal awash in a sea of 100 story towers? Shows about as much real knowledge of, and respect for, Griffintown as Devimco and City Hall do. Not one person, not me, not the people who have fought Devimco, have ever said Griffintown does not need some form of renewal. What we have been saying is that people who spend a lifetime living and working in a neighborhood should have some kind of input into how the neighborhood evolves instead of the government coming in with expropriation orders on behalf of developers who only see profits. This scenario has been played out in Montreal for far too long. What’s fair and good for Westmount or Point Saint Charles should also be good for Griffintown.

    Bobreroux, if you have followed this blog over the years you will see me calling Gerald Tremblay &Co. a lot worse with a pleasant smile on my face.

    Names are important. Culture, Heritage, Identity. We could let the city become like suburbs where we all end growing up in some McNo-Nameville, with all the name brand generic monotony that comes with it. Devimco specializes in building communities like that. It’s a good way of killing off all the intangibles that can make a city like Montreal so wonderful to live in.

  3. Nobody who lives or works in Griffintown is concerned about the development of the empty lots that MTLskyline has photographed, but people are rightly concerned with just what will be built there. Towers this large and this close to the canal will not only block the view of the skyline but will physically cut off the rest of the neighborhood (and the rest of Montreal) from the Lachine Canal, its historical lifeline.

    My objection to the name District Griffin is that it pays only lip service to the heritage of the Griffintown.

  4. There is value in a name. It’s not a question of French vs. English or corporations vs. communities, it’s about erasing an entire swath of the city’s past. When Saint-Louis got renamed Laurier the intent was to honour a senior statesman but what effectively happened was that people forgot this used to be the main street of an actual town, not just some little corner of Mile-End. How many people remember that the fire station on the corner of Laurier and Saint-Laurent was once a city hall? When Tremblay tried to rename avenue du Parc, there was a legitimate uproar from the neighbourhood worried that a key portion of the Plateau’s history would be erased with one fell swoop. There is a cavalier attitude towards neighbourhoods in this city, and not just the francisation of uncomfortable street names but erasing entire villages and towns. Goose Village, the northern part of Saint-Henri, what is now Viger Square, most of the city’s markets… we’ve already destroyed enough of our history in the name of progress. Maybe it’s time to assess not only the real estate value of neighbourhoods but what the value of a neighbourhood is to the city in human terms. Don’t forget the real reason Griffintown is such a shambles now – there was a policy of attrition against this “undesirable” neighbourhood with the intent of depopulating it to the point that it would be in a crisis state and have to be rebuilt according to the modernisation plans that gave us horrorshows like the VME. We shouldn’t allow that artificial crisis to fool us into thinking the only solution is to give developers carte blanche; we should instead focus on how to recreate the neighbourhood that the city’s administration tried to destroy in a more backwards time. We can learn from our mistakes instead of repeating them.

  5. Excellent point, Ian. Demolition by neglect is a shameful tradition in this city as elsewhere, just look at how the Seville deteriorated or The Main.

    The rule with developers seems to be just go for the whole enchilada and if anyone complains, scale it back to where you wanted to be in the first place. City Hall plays that game too. We need to stay vigilant because the Tremblay regime still has a few damage inflicting years ahead of them!

  6. Well, is it really so ahistorical? Griffintown was named after Mary Griffin after all…if we wanted to be really accurate then it should be called McCord Village! Though yeah, generic clone condo marketing sucks.

    This might be surprising, coming from someone who co-created the SaveGriffintown site, and i preface this by saying I’m no fan of Devimco, but I’m kind of…resigned, i guess, to the idea that something is going to be built there. The project has changed and morphed so often over the last few years, that the prospect of four medium-height mixed-use buildings going on empty lots almost comes as a relief. At least nothing else is being demolished for the time being.

    Remember the original project, which would have erased streets entirely for things the size of two Complexe Desjardins? This project at least respects the historical street grid.

    And there was that brief iteration from that British urbanism firm that looked like a corporate-office-park hell on earth, which got shot down as well.

    I know this damns it with faint praise, but this looks acceptable. If, in the long run, this does form the anchor of a new north-south axis for downtown, and provokes some evolution (organic, it’s hoped), good, though we must be cautious to encourage good urbanism and lot-based development, organically over time, vs. megaprojects.

    That said, a) Downtown Montreal is a gap-toothed mix, with 1-story buildings sitting next to beaux arts office buildings (esp on Sainte Catherine). It’d be interesting to see more tall infill there, affordably priced rentals…

    b) it’s damned hard to find housing appropriately sized for families that isn’t at the far edges of the island, or right next to train tracks or oil refineries…

  7. McCord Village would have been a much better name than District Griffin in my opinion, or Wellington Bridge, or any number of other things. An obvious alternate would have been District Griffintown.

  8. I’d like to make a point by first quoting a 2009 report from the McGill School of Architecture written by Golroo Mofarrahi: “Today, Griffintown is defined by Notre-Dame Street to the north, McGill Street to the east, Guy Street to the west and the Lachine Canal to the south.”

    That being the case, this project, (even if Devimco were to develop the entire area it had originally planned on developing) is only part of Griffintown. Calling the project Griffintown, Griffintown II or District Griffintown, in my opinion would thus be disfavourable to the future of Griffintown because it would create a false perception of the scope of what in a decade or so will be a greatly gentrified area that will include both renovated historical buildings and modern architecture.

    To further explain what I am saying here is a list of the projects proposed, approved, under construction, or recently finished within the border described above (omitting those east of the Bonaventure as the “Faubourgs des Recollets” and the “Cite Multimedia” pretty much hold their own and can hardly be considered Griffintown since their gentrification a decade or so ago):

    ETS (Multiple projects – including 4 that are currently in construction or proposed)

    Les Bassins du Nouveau Havre

    Le Lowney (Phases 1-10)

    Hotel Mo

    Carré de la Montagne

    The Hakim/Canvar project

    Add the considerable amount of land that has yet to be earmarked for any projects as of yet and you have a whole lot of Griffintown that has nothing to do with Devimco.

  9. In other words, Devimco showed great sensitivity to the neighborhood by not selfishly grabbing the name Griffintown, the way that, for example, the Griffintown Cafe has done?

  10. For me the whole thing is about the process. How did the City ever come to approve a massive project that almost completely changes an entire city district? Developers buy lunch for people at City Hall and discuss stuff like zoning, “grandfather laws”, and anything else that might be a hindrance to their plans. Many, many tabs have been picked up by the time the Mayor announces a project. The corridors of corruption are so thorough here that no one even knows they are cheating anymore, it’s all a given. The original Devimco project set off a lot of alarms for me simply because of some of the names associated with it. In this day and age of sustainable transit, it sure looked like someone was planning to bring an old time gravy train to Griffintown.

    We still do not have a proper process for neighborhood development in Montreal.

    Anyway, this scaled back version does seem to be a relatively neighborhood friendly project, but I do think it is a mistake to build over 3 or 4 floors down there, and letting one developer have that much impact on an area is just not good policy, and there is something ominous about the whole “Phase 1” implications. It’s also close to a very crucial section of the Lachine Canal that if filled in with million dollar condos will do more harm than good in cultural and recreational terms overall. Toronto, for example, had the opportunity in recent decades to build the most interesting and attractive urban waterfront in the world and ended up with something extraordinarily short of that primarily because of real estate development that opted for a condo tower aesthetic and, ironically as far this blog is concerned, a profound inability to solve a freeway problem. Sound familiar? Yea, and we merged too!

    The City ignored Griffintown for decades but now seems to think it knows what’s best for the area. It is very important to understand that Montreal does not have any large sections available for such development. You can’t do this on this scale anywhere else in the city. And for that reason alone, Griffintown should be seen as a dusty old precious gem just waiting to be polished up a little, to be given the chance to shine on it’s own again, instead of being ground up into a bunch of little stones that are of no interest to anyone except those that have put them up for sale.

  11. Factotum, I never said they showed great sensitivity. I’m just pleased that they didn’t (whether for a specific reason or by chance) choose the word Griffintown by itself or place it next to a word like district or quartier, because as I mentioned I think it would create a false illusion of the borders and diversity of the entirety of Griffintown. Now if they called it something like”les Tours Griffintown” at least it doesn’t create the false illusion that their project encompasses all of Griffintown. So snarky comments such as “not selfishly grabbing the name Griffintown, the way that, for example, the Griffintown Cafe has done” are really unnecessary.

  12. Matt, I’m sorry that I stooped to sarcasm. We all want this to be the best project possible and are working towards that end.
    There is a public information meeting on the 8th; I hope everybody comes.

    Séance d’information sur le projet Griffintown
    le 8 septembre prochain

    Montréal, le 27 août 2010 – L’arrondissement du Sud-Ouest invite toutes les personnes intéressées à assister à une séance d’information sur l’évolution du projet Griffintown proposé par la firme Devimco, le mercredi 8 septembre prochain à 19 h au Centre culturel Georges-Vanier (2450, rue Workman, métro Lionel-Groulx).

    Cette séance précédera la séance publique du Comité d’études des demandes de permis de démolition de l’arrondissement, qui se tiendra au même endroit à 21 h, portant sur les premiers bâtiments visés par le projet, situés au 115, rue Young et au 1095, rue Smith.

    « Compte tenu des changements apportés au projet initial et de l’intérêt qu’avait suscité la consultation publique, en 2008, il nous apparaît essentiel de faire un retour sur l’évolution de cet important dossier », souligne le maire de l’arrondissement, Benoit Dorais. « C’est l’engagement que mon équipe et moi avions pris de revenir devant les citoyens afin de les informer du suivi des consultations entourant tous les grands projets dans l’arrondissement », a-t-il insisté.

    Rappelons qu’en avril dernier, le conseil municipal a donné son aval au développement de la partie sud du projet initial, située entre la rue Wellington et les voies ferrées du CN. Représentant environ le tiers du territoire d’origine, ce nouveau projet répond aux conditions du Programme particulier d’urbanisme (PPU) adopté en 2008. Principalement résidentiel, il comporte la construction de 1375 logements, dont 15 % de logements sociaux et 15 % de logements abordables. Un hôtel ainsi que des espaces à bureaux et des commerces de proximité sont également prévus. Ce nouveau projet est évalué à 475 M$.

    – 30 –

    Renseignements :
    Marie Otis, directrice de cabinet
    Arrondissement du Sud-Ouest
    514 872-4061 ou 514 984-7333

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