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  1. By Eric Moskowitz | GLOBE STAFF MAY 19, 2013 The city’s on-street bike lanes are marvels to US visitors. We had pedaled half a block from the vibrant Jeanne-Mance Park, past tennis matches, a youth league football game, and the filming of a music video, when it dawned on me: We were biking in one direction, and the cars were pointed in another. But this was no rogue move by our tour guide, leading us the wrong way down a one-way street. Pavement markings invited it. Stopping ahead, guide Martin Coutu pointed out a defining feature of the city’s residential neighborhoods: the cast-iron outdoor staircases leading to the upper floors of thousands of two- and three-story walkups, allowing the homes to achieve a gracious sidewalk setback without ceding interior space for shared entries and stairwells. Still, I couldn’t help marveling over that bike lane, beckoning two-way cycling down an otherwise one-way street. I could picture just a single block like it in Cambridge and none in Boston. But as we followed Coutu along Fitz & Follwell Co.’s ’Hoods and Hidden Gems tour, it became clear that, in Montreal, it was one of many. Coursing through the city, we followed all manner of on-street bike lanes — plain old painted lanes, two-way lanes, lanes protected from traffic by plastic rods or concrete curbs — and off-street bike paths. We even saw some bicycle-specific traffic lights. Painted markings guided us through intersections, and signs told drivers to give us the right of way. More remarkably, they obeyed. Related If you go biking in Montreal... On that four-hour tour, and again riding around the city on the bike-sharing network known as Bixi, no one honked at us, not even once. It was liberating, allowing us to follow Coutu — a cheerful character with the whippet build of a bike messenger, unafraid to give a playful squeeze to the bulbous retro horn affixed to his handlebars — without any white-knuckled worry about staying alive. “The majority of our customers are American,” Shea Mayer, Fitz & Follwell’s founder, told me later, “and they all say, ‘It’s unbelievable. I live in Boston, I live in New York’ — or California, or wherever it is — ‘and not only can I not believe the amount of lanes you have, but I can’t believe we haven’t been run off the road yet.’ ” And there was plenty to see following those bike lanes, on a tour inspired by Mayer’s idea of a perfect day off in Montreal, often ranked as the most bike-friendly city in North America. Riding a stylish set of Dutch-inspired upright bikes, we weaved through the colorful neighborhoods that fan out to the east and northeast of the verdant peak known as Mont Royal, including Mile-End, Outremont, and Petite Italie. We stopped to sample wood-fired, sesame seed-covered bagels on Rue Saint-Viateur; sip exquisitely prepared cappuccino at Café Olimpico; and explore the open-air stalls of the Jean-Talon Market, the larger, locally minded cousin to the tourist-choked Atwater Market on the waterfront. Mayer started Fitz & Follwell as a one-man outfit in 2009, soon growing it into an eight-guide business and a boutique in the hip neighborhood known as The Plateau, where he rents and sells bikes and offers locally made, bike-friendly products such as a leather crossbar holster for wine bottles. The outings now include a food tour by foot and winter toboggan and snowshoe expeditions in the city’s famed parks, but the bread and butter is still the April through October bike tour. It is designed not as a stop-and-go sightseeing tour that happens to be by bicycle, but a two-wheeled immersion in, and celebration of, a place with a deeply ingrained bike culture. Having written about Boston’s push under Mayor Thomas M. Menino to end its status as the scourge of the biking world, starting from zero to add 60 miles of bike lanes, and launching the Hubway bike-share network, I was aware of the basic facts about Montreal. It boasts hundreds of miles of bike lanes, and its Bixi system, with more than 400 stations and 5,100 bikes, is four times as extensive as Hubway. But the numbers tell only part of it. This is a rare city beyond Europe where bicycling is not just a form of daring recreation or reluctant transportation but an essential, accepted part of everyday life. It is the way urbanites get to the pub, the park, the office, the grocery store. I saw bikes as fashion statements and bikes outnumbering cars, three or four fastened to every parking-meter post on the bar-, cafe-, and boutique-laden Saint-Laurent and Saint-Denis avenues. Not that I had come to Montreal intent on geeking out on the bike infrastructure and scene. My girlfriend, Hannah, and I had been drawn by the city’s traditional allures: food, culture, architectural charm, and proximity to Boston. Before we went, Hannah made a Facebook appeal for suggestions, and a friend in New York quickly responded, declaring Fitz & Follwell “the best thing I’ve ever done as a tourist” — anywhere. A Google search yielded similar superlatives on TripAdvisor, where the company holds the top ranking among all manner of Montreal tour providers, so we booked. What distinguishes Fitz & Follwell was never clearer than at the end of the tour, after we had admired more outdoor staircases and followed Coutu through a world tourists rarely see: the intricate network of back alleys that were once the unremarkable setting for so many anonymous coal deliveries and trash collections, but that have been enlivened recently with lush gardens, ivy-draped terraces, and candy-colored murals. Winding down, we ducked into a boulangerie and pedaled behind Coutu to Parc La Fontaine, where he laid a blanket on a rare stretch of unoccupied grass and we sat down to a spread of ripe strawberries and cherry tomatoes from Jean-Talon Market, made-to-order sandwiches from the boulangerie, and ice-cold craft beers. As we sipped, ate, and laughed, another group biked into view on the far side of the lawn, gathering around a leader. Not only were they not enjoying a picnic, but they were clad in matching fluorescent vests, like members of a prison road crew. “That’s the other bike tour,” Coutu said, grinning impishly. “They’re people who get lost easily.” Watching them, it was easy to forget we weren’t locals ourselves — or, at least, visitors being shown around by a savvy friend. When we got back to the shop, we lingered, reluctant to let go of the leather grips on those Dutch-inspired bikes. So we did the next best thing, renting Bixis to explore places suggested by Coutu as we had buzzed by — only so many eating stops can be squeezed into one tour. Undaunted by intermittent rain, we rode in the evening along part of the Canal-de-Lachine, a 35-year-old bike path that traces a canal abandoned after the 1959 opening of a shipping channel in the mighty St. Lawrence River, and followed another bike path along part of the city’s active industrial port and over the low-slung Pont de la Concorde bridge, reaching Île Sainte-Hélène, the leafy epicenter of Expo ’67, still anchored by the Biosphere and an amusement park. Darkness settling in, we followed a path to the other side of the island and found a trail leading to the Jacques Cartier Bridge, an 11,000-foot steel truss span that rises 162 feet above the St. Lawrence, similar in size and design to Boston’s Tobin Bridge. However crazy the idea of biking the Tobin might sound, here we found an inviting bike lane — and an exhilarating one, high above the jet-black water — running along one side of the Cartier, protected from traffic. Pedaling back to downtown, I thought about something Coutu had said: Montreal wasn’t always so bike-friendly, it just had an earlier start. I considered Boston, where bicycle counts are rising, and new lanes, albeit unprotected ones, are striped every year. As the city lights came closer, I realized I wasn’t just pedaling toward the most bikeable city on the continent. I was seeing a vision of Boston’s future. http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/travel/2013/05/18/bike-tour-montreal/Q7r2F3g6TIuwiiITu0ypGL/story.html
  2. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Whole+Foods+grocery+chain+seeks+locations+Montreal/8423890/story.html#ixzz2UBTI7njo I would so love to see them here. One could only hope, if they do open Loblaws (now being rebranded as Provigo) and Metro will finally serve a better assortment of warm meals.
  3. http://www.autoblog.com/2009/12/11/report-detroit-three-call-japans-cash-for-clunkers-program-unf/ http://www.autoblog.com/2010/01/07/report-obama-urged-to-push-japan-to-open-its-cash-for-clunkers/ Protectionism in full swing once again in Japan. Why should their cars be eligible for cash for clunkers in the US, if American cars are not there. That is not free trade. Hopefully President Obama puts an end to this nonsense.
  4. (Courtesy of The Globe and Mail) First stop London, next stop global domination!
  5. Les projects Altoria et Waldorf Astoria Hotel sont mentionne dans cette article,que j'ai trouver tres interessante. MONTREAL – On the gutted eighth storey of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Andrew Torriani walks across white marble floors turned grey from dust. But despite the renovations under way, Torriani, president and CEO of the historic Ritz-Carlton Montreal, can imagine the hardwood floors, glass walls and marble finishes to come. After being delayed a year, and suffering $30 million in extra costs, he says, the Ritz's über-luxury residence and 130-room hotel project - when complete - will stand above the city's array of existing high-end condominiums. "It's the details - details you wouldn't have believed existed," Torriani said while touting the benefits of Ritz ownership to a reporter this week. The Ritz's 46-unit residence - to open about winter 2011 - follows the injection of nearly 280 other high-end condo units into the city since 2007. Plus, Monit Investments insists its plans for a $200-million downtown Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Residence, with 100 condos and 225 hotel rooms, will go ahead near the corner of Sherbrooke and Guy Sts. These condos, which can cost millions of dollars per apartment, are developers' response to a robust market, aging demographics and rock-bottom interest rates that have incited buyers to upgrade their homes. Some hail the trend as a boon for Montreal as it lures the elite back to the city. Former SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. CEO Guy Saint-Pierre bought one downtown, while Bombardier Inc. Chairman Laurent Beaudoin was considering a condo at the posh Sir George Simpson. But several real estate agents, brokers and developers interviewed by The Gazette question how many luxury condos Montreal can sustain above the key $500 a square foot price point. "We really believe there is a limit in Montreal to the sale of condos over $500,000," said Richard Hylands, president of Kevric Real Estate Corp. which is building the more modest 115-condo Altoria project near Old Montreal. "Basically we're offering a very good product. We're not selling indoor golf or an indoor theatre. The people we are selling to want quality but not high condo fees." Real estate observers say the proof is in the for-sale signs. Despite offering striking views, private terrasses and hotel-style amenities, half of the 10 penthouses at Le Roc Fleuri on Drummond St. are empty - even though most of the 140-unit building is sold out. Meanwhile, five of the 31 condos at the Sir George Simpson building are for sale. Since late 2008, the Ritz project has sold 17 of its 46 units. "I think there is an over-supply of high-end condos in Montreal," said Pierre Laliberté, a specialist in condos with the real estate consulting firm Altus Group Ltd. "When you try to sell a condo for $1 million for more, there aren't a lot of buyers." Veteran real estate agent, JJ Jacobs, president of JJ Jacobs Realty Inc., agreed: "The $1,000 a square foot market is a high market for Montreal," she said. "There have been some very big sales, but it's only so deep. "Personally I don't know how many more the city can hold." Condo prices haven't dropped, however, because Montreal developers tend to have deep enough pockets to absorb the cost of the empty units, Laliberté said. Recently, Montreal's high-end condo market has exploded with a handful of new buildings going up between 2006 and last year. Many were bought by aging empty nesters eager to exchange their houses for the convenience of a condo. "There's going to be a portion of those buyers who are going to enjoy the downtown and they have the resources to do it," said Alan Marcovitz, president and chairman of the Westcliff Group of Companies, which built the sold-out Beaux arts condominiums on Sherbrooke St. Even during a time of economic crisis, Montreal's resilient real estate market coupled with low interest rates, also motivated third and fourth time buyers to upgrade, Marcovitz said. And with the economy improving, demand hasn't dwindled despite plans to slowly raise interest rates, he said. "Your typical buyer is in a significantly better position today than a year ago." But most developers agree that few buyers of ultra high-end condos worry about interest rates. "The challenge is finding the right buyers," said Daniel Lalonde, sales and marketing director for Le Roc Fleuri. "We have a limited pool." In Montreal, wealthy buyers have a wide choice of homes - either condos or houses. "They (high-end condos) sell, but you must really satisfy the buyers and this is a very discriminating clientèle," said Normand Lépine, vice-president of Groupe Lépine, which built Sir George Simpson, among other high-end buildings. "The developer shouldn't under-estimate the amount of effort required. You must really have the right project." Among the basics, high-end condo buildings feature a 24-hour doorman, indoor pool, and spa or massage room. Residents of the Ritz, the Crystal de la Montagne, and the Roc Fleuri's penthouses, have the added option of ordering in room service, getting their dry cleaning delivered, or even having a light bulb changed. The Ritz project - which will cost up to $150 million including key indirect expenses - offers residents a private concierge. It also has a back-up power system able to run the building at virtually full capacity in the event of a electricity failure, said Torriani, whose Monaco Luxury Hotel Management Co. is a risk-sharing partner in the Ritz project. But sales at the Ritz - which closed as a hotel in 2008 - started slowly as the recession discouraged prospective customers. Both the Roc Fleuri and the Ritz have attracted a significant number of foreigners - and these buyers feared for their stock portfolios and the future of Montreal's real estate market. "They postponed their plans," said the Roc Fleuri's Lalonde. "It reduced the amount of visits I got from out of town buyers." Faced with the recession and unexpected construction problems - workers discovered asbestos deep within the Ritz's walls - Torriani decided to revamp his plans on a more grandiose scale. To boost sales he brought in Liza Kaufman, a star real estate agent and managing director of Sotheby's International Realty Québec. While 2009 started off slowly, Kaufman said business at the Ritz has picked up. "If the building was already constructed I would have sold out yesterday," she said. Kaufman, who has sold countless multi-million dollar homes said Montreal is more attractive to foreign buyers than locals realize. "I think the market is evolving," she said. "We have to understand that our city has a lot to offer." Torriani said he isn't worried about a lack of local buyers with the financial means to live at the Ritz, which has an 8,000 square foot penthouse listed for $12 million. Indeed, Torriani left his job as Air Canada's director of human resources, to run the Ritz, where he once worked summer jobs as a dishwasher and waiter. His family, including veteran hotelier Marco Torriani, has a vast stake in the project's success. Before leaving the Ritz's construction site this week, Torriani passes by a swathe of blue and cream brocade wallpaper and wood panelling outside the 98-year-old hotel's former boardroom. The room, along with the hotel's façade will be preserved - vestiges of the Ritz's opening in 1912, when the city was booming and its status as "the Paris of North America" wasn't yet a cliché. Torriani insists that today's economic climate - including the success of the Cirque du Soleil and "Quebec Inc." companies - is equally ripe for the Ritz's reopening, both as a high-end hotel and as a residence. "I think we've seen a resurgence in the last five years or so," he said. "Montreal has a lot more wealthy people than you would expect." [email protected] thegazette.canwest.com Join Allison Lampert at our blog Inc. Ink for a tour of the Roc Fleuri's most expensive condo and see what $9.5 million will buy. http://www.montrealgazette.com/story_print.html?id=2759239&sponsor=
  6. http://spacingmontreal.ca/2010/05/25/parc-lahaie-transformation-underway/ Résultat du parc Lahaie: C'est très laid ! deux tables dans le milieu, c'est le seul truc qu'ils ont trouvé à installer ? Je crois qu'il serait mieux de détruire la rue si ont veut vraiment la transformer en place publique. Je laisse Étienne vous présenter ses rendus qui sont extra !
  7. Very shot report on Toronto real estate market and high rises. It's really quite incredible. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/investment-ideas/features/at-the-bell/torontos-moving-on-up-and-up/article2343503/
  8. http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/sale+city+buildings+prime+spots/5275338/story.html By Allison Lampert, The Gazette August 18, 2011 10:08 PM The former H.L. Blachford Ltd. manufacturing building at 977 Lucien L'Allier St. was purchased for $6.8 million in 2000 MONTREAL - The real-estate arm of the city of Montreal is poised to sell two buildings in prime downtown locations that have been sitting half-empty for years, The Gazette has learned. The two buildings, located near the Bell Centre, are among hundreds of thousands of square feet of downtown Montreal real estate that has recently changed hands – or is to be sold off – for new office and residential projects, at a time when land prices have reached all-time highs. The buildings, which are to be put up for tenders this year by the Société d’habitation et de développement de Montréal, are located on sites originally destined for the third phase of Quebec’s ill-fated E-Commerce Place. Quebec’s Department of Finance mandated the SHDM to manage the buildings it bought for close to $7.9 million in 2000. “We want to put them for sale by the end of the year,” said Carl Bond, director of real estate management for the SHDM, a paramunicipal organization that owns and manages affordable housing units, along with several commercial buildings. “Those buildings will be sold, but we need an authorization from the (Department) of Finance.” Located at 977 Lucien l’Allier, and 1000-1006 de la Montagne St., south of René Lévesque Blvd., the buildings were initially slated to be demolished to make way for gleaming office towers. They were to be the last part of the 3-million-square foot Parti Québécois-supported project that was later scrapped by the Liberal government in 2003. The 24,000-square-foot site north of the Lucien l’Allier métro station was purchased from manufacturer H.L. Blachford Ltd. for $6.8 million in 2000 – far above the building’s 2011 municipal evaluation of $4.5 million. The disparity between the sales price and the current evaluation, an SHDM spokesperson explained, is because the land was to be used for a lucrative office tower, worth far more than a four-storey manufacturing plant. The two buildings have taken a long time to come to market. That’s because Blachford had a lease at the building until this spring when it ceased operations, Bond said. A travel agency is still operating at the building on de la Montagne, part of which is in a decrepit state. What’s more, the SHDM is now embroiled in legal talks with Blachford over the cost of cleaning up the building, which is contaminated. “Right now the lawyers are talking and we’re hoping to settle this out of court,” Bond said. But some commercial brokers say the SHDM lucked out in waiting. The buildings, they said, would be ideal for residential development at a time when new condos are being constructed in record numbers and downtown land is selling at a premium. “In terms of timing, it’s better to go to the market today,” said Louis Burgos, senior managing director, Cushman & Wakefield, Montreal. Today, land in the downtown area is being sold for $250 to $350 per square foot, brokers say, depending on the level of building density, or how much can be developed overall on the site. The SHDM’s two buildings won’t be coming to market alone. Another three sites have either traded hands, or are to come to market this year for the purpose of development. In late July, a site of Overdale Ave., an estimated 140,000-square-foot plot on the south side of René Lévesque Blvd, beside Bishop St., was sold by a company based out of a Sherbrooke St. West art gallery run by director Robert Landau for $28 million, provincial records show. The buyer is a numbered company owned by investor Kheng Li, who is a partner of E. Khoury Construction Inc. A worker at Khoury who didn’t want to be identified, said the site could be used for either residential or office development. And in April, Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd. announced a $400 million investment for an office and three condo towers to be built near the Bell Centre, on Saint Antoine and de la Montagne Sts. Yet a fifth land site near the Bell Centre is to be put on the market next week, The Gazette has learned. The price these sites will fetch will depend on a combination of zoning and market demand. The red-tape Montreal developers have historically faced in obtaining zoning changes to built higher — and more economically viable buildings — may be easier to deal with if the seller is a city agency, brokers say. [email protected] http://www.twitter.com/RealDealMtl Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/sale+city+buildings+prime+spots/5275338/story.html#ixzz1VRFi0FYh
  9. (Courtesy of the Financial Post) RBC is pulling out, yet BMO and TD are expanding. Lets see what happens.
  10. China's Arithmetic When It Comes to the Dollar “It will be helpful if Geithner can show us some arithmetic” -Yu Yongding From the lens of a global risk manager, this morning has to be one of the more fascinating that I have ever woken up to. At the same time as the US Government is setting themselves up to announce one of the largest bankruptcies in US corporate history, we have a squirrel hunting US Treasury Secretary telling the Chinese to “trust us” and America’s currency. That a boy! Providing leadership to the world’s increasingly interconnected economy is by no means an easy task, and maybe that’s why the world is voting against America holding the world’s reserve Currency Conch any longer. Timmy Geithner’s effectiveness with the Chinese translators overseas this morning is borderline laughable. There was a time when the Wizards of Wall Street’s Oz could fly overseas and make a comment like “we are committed to a strong dollar” and it would actually matter. Rather than getting on a plane and shaking hands with The Client (China) himself, President Obama opted to send the same guy that called the holder of $768B in US Debt “manipulators"... Nice! When it comes to financial market sophistication, other countries aren’t as gullible as they used to be. An internet connection and You Tube screen have effectively changed all that. On the heels of Timmy’s “reassuring” comments, the US Dollar is getting spanked again, trading down another -0.73% to lower-lows at $78.63. Rather than fading Geithner from my soapbox, now the world is – it’s sad. I understand that this is all doesn’t matter yet because someone on CNBC is hopped-up about where the US futures ramped into Friday’s close and look here on today’s open. That manic behavior really helps America’s reputation. At the end of the day, the US stock market could go up another 6% to 9% today, and it would still be amongst one of the worst performing stock markets in the world. The Dollar moving into crisis mode matters. First, all of the reflation trades pay themselves out in full. Second, all of the global political capital associated with the almighty Petro-Dollar gets redistributed. And Third, well… rather than analyzing this as the said Great Depression Part Deux… how about another Third Quarter of 2008 in US Equities? Nah, that’s crazy right? Like they say in the Canadian Junior Hockey Leagues, “crazy is as crazy does”! There are loads of unintended consequences associated with a US Dollar crashing – the only other sustainable break we’ve seen in the US Dollar Index below the $80 level since 1971 (when Nixon abandoned the gold standard), was that one that led us to that 2008 Third Quarter… After locking in another +5.3% month for May, the S&P500 is up a whopping +1.8% for the YTD. Unlike most global equity markets that are charging to higher-highs this morning, the S&P500 is still trading below its January 6th high of 934. On the heels of another strong, albeit not herculean PMI manufacturing report last night (it decelerated slightly month over month), China’s stock market charged to higher-highs, closing up another +3.4%. The Shanghai Composite Index is now +49.5% YTD, and we, as our British philosophy competitor likes to say remain “long of it.” From Hong Kong to Russia, stock markets are up +4 to +6% this morning. Why? Because, much like the only other time we saw the US Dollar break down to these levels, everything that China needs reflates. Oil prices and the promises of a potentially empowering Chinese handshake have the Russian Trading System Index (RTSI) up +83% for 2009 to-date. Now that and the price of oil trading up +19% in less than 2-weeks is getting someone paid - and it isn’t the American Consumer! As she trashes her currency, America will continue to lose political capital both domestically and abroad. After all, a -12% three-month swan dive in the US Dollar has hacked over $90 Billion of value from the Chinese position in US Treasuries. Creditors and citizenry hush yourselves! All the while, 17 out of 23 Chinese economists polled are calling holding those Treasuries a “great risk” this morning. I know, I know… an economist or a billion US Dollars ain't what it used to be… At some point, China’s interpretation of the arithmetic is going to really matter.
  11. New York City fears return to 1970s Tue Jan 27, 2009 By Joan Gralla http://www.reuters.com/article/newsO...50Q6IH20090127
  12. New Configuration for the Halted Ritz Carlton Project VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - A downtown Vancouver condo and hotel project that was halted in the market slump could be coming back to life in a less-grand form. The developer of the 600-foot Ritz-Carlton put the project on hold in February as others were cancelled. Holborn Group President and CEO Joo Kim Tiah says "the project is going forward", but will be different inside the spiralling tower of almost 60 storeys, designed by the late Arthur Erickson. The plan now is for a smaller hotel and more condos, with units that are smaller and more affordable to suit the current market. Tiah adds it might not be under the same banner. The Ritz-Carlton was originally at the top of the market: one pre-sale was for $28 million. Tiah hopes construction can begin this fall, but it could be affected by the City of Vancouver wanting construction halted for the 2010 Winter Olympics. He says he doesn't want to wait until next March to begin construction. http://www.news1130.com/news/local/m...708_183544_976 Signe des temps, il y a peut-être de l'espoir à court terme pour certains projets si ils peuvent être reconfigurés vers du meilleur marché.
  13. St. Catherine Street: the changing of the guard Remember that little boutique where you bought the leather jacket 15 years ago? It’s gone. If you have not visited St.Catherine Street in Montreal since the early 1990s, you would not recognize it. Of the stores that were located in the prime area between Bishop and University, not more than fi ve are still in existence. The locallyowned stores are gone, replaced at first by national retail chains, which in turn are giving way to international chains. Storefront retail throughout North America has been in decline for many years. St. Catherine Street is the exception. Rental rates have quadrupled. Vacancies are nonexistent. It is not just any street. Fifteen kilometres long, St. Catherine comprises 1,200 stores, making it the largest concentration of retail outlets in Canada. The street is witness to 3,500 pedestrians per hour, 250,000 offi ce workers at lunchtime, and 100,000 students per day, keeping the street alive at all hours. Furthermore, eight subway stations, 30 kilometres of underground walkways with 178 entrances, and 2,000 underground stores totalling 36 million square feet (sq. ft.) of floor space are used by 500,000 people on a daily basis. In street front retail, if you don’t have a store on St. Catherine Street, you have not made it. There are two strategies for retail chains entering Quebec: 1) open a fl agship store on St. Catherine Street; or 2) open four or five stores in major malls around Montreal, and a flagship store on St. Catherine Street. At the corner of Peel and St. Catherine, three of the four corner stores have changed in the past year. The newcomers are H&M (Hennes & Mauritz of Sweden) with 20,000 sq. ft; Guess with 13,000 sq. ft; and American Eagle, with 17,000 sq. ft and Apple Store. In the last five years, more than 20 flagship stores have opened here, mostly multinationals, such as: Lululemon, Oakley, American Eagle, Esprit, Garage, Guess, Khiels, Geox, GNC, Ecco Shoes, H&M, Mango, French Connection, Quicksilver, Marciano and Adidas. The shortage of space forces stores to take minimal frontage on the ground floor, and more space on the second and third fl oors. Ground fl oor space that leased in the early 1990s for $50 net per sq. ft. (psf ), with the landlord offering $25 per sq. ft. for leasehold improvements, now leases for $200 net psf and up, plus $30 psf for operating costs and taxes. And some of the stores spend $5 million renovating the space. But as they say in Rolls Royce dealerships, if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it. Some of these stores are not making money, but they are here for image and marketing purposes. All the other banners are here, so they have to be here too. Whereas the mixture of stores constantly evolves, most of the landlords have been here for 30 or 40 years. They have seen the market go up and down. In this market, they will turn down all but the best. For one vacancy last year, there were four multinational chains trying to outbid each other for the space. http://www.avisonyoung.com/library/pdf/National/Fall-Winter_2008_AY_National_Newsletter.pdf
  14. November 14, 2008 by Deyanira Bautista Filed under Montreal Market Report According to the Greater Montréal Real Estate Board’s MLS® system, there were 36,955 transactions from last year until now. 4% less sales compared to last year. In terms of property prices in the Metropolitan Area of Montréal, the median prices of single-family homes and plexes increased by 6% compared to the same period last year, condominium prices increased by 3%. Compared to the first 10 months of 2007, condo sales grew by 5% in the Montréal Metropolitan Area. On the other hand, sales of single-family homes decreased by 7%, and plex sales decreased by 5%. “The median price of a single-family home grew last month by 4 per cent, increasing from $220,000 in October 2007 to $228,000 in October 2008. The plex market retained a stable median price at $329,250, while that of condominiums fell slightly by 1 per cent. This decrease can be explained by the minor decline in median prices of condominiums on the Island of Montréal, the largest condominium market. October’s resale market continues to favour sellers, despite a 9 per cent increase in the number of active listings in the MLS® system.” Source: Montreal Real Estate Board http://montrealrealestateblog.com/
  15. du NationalPost Nobody is selling real estate and few are buying it, so how do you value it? The question dominated a panelist discussion that included the leaders of some of the largest real estate companies in the world. The consensus at the 14th annual North American Real Estate Equities conference, put on by CIBC World Markets, is the Canadian market will see little activity in 2009. Pinned down on what Toronto's Scotia Plaza might fetch in today's market, Andrea Stephen, executive vice-president of Cadillac Fairview Corp., said she couldn't answer. "It is difficult because there is a small pool of buyers," said Ms. Stephen who passed the question on to Tom Farley, chief executive of Brookfield Properties Corp. which is now building the Bay-Adelaide Centre, the first new office tower in Toronto's financial core in 15 years. Mr. Farley noted only three major assets have traded in the past seven years, the last being the TD Canada Trust Tower in Toronto. That was sold at $723/square foot, he said. Ms. Stephen said that figure might be "little rich" in today's market, but said it's hard to establish a real price. When Cadillac, which is owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board, bought the Toronto-Dominion Bank's office tower assets the price was about $300 a square foot but that was eight years ago. There is no real pressure on any of the major owners of Canada's office towers to sell, so the type of fire sales that have been seen in the United States are less likely. "You have eight entities that control 90% [of the major towers]. It's ourselves and seven pension funds," said Mr. Farley. "We can weather the storm." Not everyone on the panel was as confident about the Canadian market. David Henry, president of retail landlord Kimco Realty Corp. which is based in the United States but has some holdings in Canada, said rental rates are "falling of the cliff." He did note the company's Canadian portfolio is holding up better than its U.S. holdings. He said there will be merger opportunities as prices continue to fall. Mr. Henry, said capitalization rates have been rising with alarming speed. The cap rate is the expected rate of return on a property, the higher the cap rate the less a property is worth. "We saw cap rates go from 6 to 8.5 in the United States. It may not go as high [in Canada] but it could go to 8," he said, referring to the retail sector. Dori Segal, the chief executive of First Capital Realty Corp., said he still hasn't seen the buying opportunities. "There is not a single grocery anchored shopping centre for sale in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary or even Victoria for that matter," said Mr. Segal.
  16. Desjardins financial grows outside Quebec The Gazette Published: 1 hour ago Desjardins Financial Security, the life and health insurance arm of the $152-billion Desjardins Group, said yesterday that business growth outside Quebec was strong in the second quarter. Premium income was up 6.1 per cent from a year earlier in Quebec, where it already has a large market presence, and rose 16.8 per cent in the rest of Canada. Desjardins Financial has been working hard to build market share outside Quebec, especially for group business. Desjardins Financial also sells group and individual retirement savings products, including mutual funds, and growth in this business came mainly from its new guaranteed investment contracts. "We continue to gain ground in an extremely competitive insurance market," chief operating officer Richard Fortier said. Second-quarter net income was $59.3 million vs. $68.4 million a year earlier.
  17. Montreal's Cogeco aquires Toronto Hydro Mike King, Montreal Gazette Published: Friday, June 13 MONTREAL - Cogeco Cable Inc. is spreading its network into Canada's biggest business telecommunications market with the purchase of Toronto Hydro Telecom Inc. "This acquisition is another step in the enrichment of the Cogeco Business Solutions Data offering," Louis Audet, president and CEO of the Montreal company, said yesterday in announcing the deal. He said THTI's state-of-the-art network, dedicated workforce and Toronto business market potential "should complement our existing business telecommunications activities in Ontario and allow future growth for Cogeco Cable in this line of business." Cogeco is the second-largest cable telecommunications operator in Ontario, Quebec and Portugal respectively based on the number of basic cable subscribers. Audet said the takeover "demontrates our willingness to seize upon external growth opportunities in our Canadian footprint when they arise and fit well with our business strategy." The deal provides Cogeco with a unique chance to add owned and operated points of presence throughout the greater Toronto area, linked to its other existing broadband facilities extending over the dense Ontario telecommunications corridor from Windsor to Cornwall. At the same time, THTI customers will be able to benefit from Cogeco's extensive fiber network spanning Ontario and Quebec. Shares closed at $39.89 on the Toronto Stock Exchange yesterday, up $1.08. [email protected] http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=8bb1d48f-5b0f-44ce-a31a-3ee91ef6ef00
  18. Eat like a local in ... Montreal Poutine may still be a student staple but Kevin Gould finds fresh, inventive dishes in the city's bistros, delis and micro-breweries Kevin Gould The Guardian, Saturday June 7 2008 Slow food ... find friendly service and fresh food as part of Montreal's creative food scene. Photograph: Rudy Sulgan/Corbis I start my search for the fresh local tastes of Montreal at Marché Jean-Talon (7075 Casgrain Ave between De Castelnau and Jean-Talon metro). This is not some bourgeois foodie faux-farmers' market. Held indoors in winter, the market spills outside at this time of year, with countless eat-ins, takeaways, wine shops and stalls, busy with people expecting (and getting) high-quality, well-priced, local, seasonal produce. As with the rest of Montreal's food and drink culture, someone has done a marvellous job of inculcating the virtues of the Slow Food movement, without the pretentious nonsense we're often served up in Europe. Montrealers are disarmingly friendly. A cheerful tubby bloke munching a pickled cucumber on a stick invites me to his restaurant, a minute away from the market. Jean-Philippe's Kitchen Galerie (60 rue Jean-Talon Est,+514 315 8994, no website) has no waiters: you're served by one of the three chefs who cook your dinner. He pours me a glass of excellent red from L'Orpailleur in the eastern townships, which has the grace of a French pinot noir, and the energy of a Californian one. "We're not sommeliers," he smiles, "but we know how to drink!" They sure know how to cook, too. Minestrone with chorizo and calves' sweetbreads with soft-shell crab give a flavour of Jean-Philippe's full-on stance on food. The standout main course is a massive côte de boeuf with tarragon sauce and roast veg. You can "super-size" it with truffles and foie gras. Gloriously, ridiculously rich. Strawberry salad with basil syrup and 7-Up jelly completes the feast. The most creative, interesting food scenes in town are mostly in Le Plateau and Mile End, where you find a mixture of ethnic communities, students and sophisticates. I loved Maison Cakao (5090 rue Farbre, corner of rue Laurier, +514 598 2462) for its cupcakes and brownies, and Le Fromentier (1375 rue Laurier Est), where the bread and charcuterie are at least as good as anything you'll find in Paris. Fairmount Bagel (74 rue Fairmount Ouest, fairmountbagel.com, open 24 hours, 365 days) is a tiny local institution that hand-makes 18 varieties and bakes them in wood ovens. Another institution worth its reputation is Schwartz's (3895 blvd St Laurent, +514 842 4813, schwartzsdeli.com, all you can eat $15. No reservations, expect to stand in line), whose smoked meat - think salt beef with deeper flavour - is sensational and worth queuing for. Order your meat "lean" unless you're in with a cardiologist, and eat too much of it with gorgeous dark brown fries, crunchy pickles and a soda. Around the corner, Le Reservoir (9 rue Duluth Est, +514 849 7779) is a micro-brewery with a kitchen. It is the most happening place in the area for Sunday brunch - expect fresh cranberry scones with yoghurt; cod cheeks and chips with home-made ketchup; fried eggs and smoked bacon over sublime Yorkshire pudding. Poutine is a Quebecois speciality, consisting of oily french fries strewn with curd cheese and smothered in salty gravy. Oddly comforting, and excellent for mopping up alcohol, together with every last drop of saliva in your mouth. The Montreal Pool Room (1200 blvd St Laurent), an appealingly grungy, noisy and popular diner, is a good place to try it. If poutine is old-school Montreal cuisine, the Cluny ArtBar (257 rue Prince, +514 866 1213, cluny.info) is its new wave. Cluny is in the centre of town, only a short walk from the touristy joints of the old town. It's near the riverside, attached to a gallery in an ex-foundry. Come here for generous, innovative salads and grills. A few steps away, Le Cartet (106 rue McGill, +514 871 8887) is everything you'd ever want for a buzzy, Scandinavian-smart take on the communal canteen. Great for lunch, Le Cartet has a deli attached and also offers a blowout Sunday brunch buffet, where you can nurse the hangover you nurtured the night before at Pullman (3424 du Parc ave, +514 288 7779, pullman-mtl.com), the gastro bar du choix for Montreal's beautiful people. They're serious about their wine at Pullman, but also mix a mean cosmopolitan. Try tapas like venison tartare with chips, tuna sashimi with pickled cucumber salad, mini bison burgers and roasted marrow bones with veal cheeks. Were Pullman in London, it would be double the price and snooty. Here, it is honest, exciting and fun. As Montreal reinvents itself as a multicultural, modern city, so its young chefs have thrown off the shackles of classical French cuisine. My favourite example of this pared-down, matter-of-fact excellence was in the 10-table neighbourhood Bistro Bienville (4650 rue de Mentana, +512 509 1269, bistrobienville.com). There are no starters or mains, just whatever's good today. They'll fix you a stunning seafood platter, grill you a beautiful piece of fish, and roast you a perfect fat joint of beef. I also ate excellent local cheeses, drank fantastic wine, and thought that if I lived in Montreal, I'd be in here every day. Instead of parading a love of good food and drink as accessories to an ostentatious life, Montrealers celebrate the joys of the table with the matter-of-fact verve born of living half the year in the teeth of an Arctic gale. · Canadian Affair (020-7616 9184, canadianaffair.com) flies Gatwick-Montreal from £99 one way inc tax. The stylish La Place d'Armes (+512 842 1887, hotelplacedarmes.com) has rooms for around £125 including breakfast, cheese and wine and hammam. The training hotel, l'Institut de Tourisme et d'Hôtellerie (+514 282-5120, ithq.qc.c http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008/jun/07/montreal.restaurants/print
  19. Harper disagrees with pessimistic report on Canadian housing market Wed Sep 24, 1:46 PM Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says he disagrees with a report by brokerage firm Merrill Lynch that warns Canada could be headed for a housing and mortgage meltdown similar to the one that has devastated the United States economy. The report, issued Wednesday by Merrill Lynch Canada economists David Wolf and Carolyn Kwan, said many Canadian households are more financially overextended than their counterparts in the U.S. or Britain. They said it's only a matter of time before the "tipping point" is reached and the housing and credit markets crack in Canada. "I don't accept that conclusion, not at all," Harper told reporters on tour in British Columbia. "We have seen the housing market and the construction market much stronger in Canada than in the U.S.," he said. Harper said Canadian financial institutions have also taken a different approach to lending than their American counterparts. "We don't have the same situation here with the mortgages as was the case in the U.S. with the subprime mortgages there," he said. "So, therefore, I think that our market is in a much stronger position." The report acknowledges that the analysis is more pessimistic than the prevailing view. Many economists have been saying that Canada's housing and banking sectors are much more stable than their American counterparts, and will likely slow down but not crash. But Merrill Lynch Canada - whose U.S. parent is one of the biggest victims of a crisis in financial markets arising from the American housing and mortgage meltdown - said Canadians should be wary. Household net borrowing in Canada amounted to 6.3 per cent of disposable income in 2007, which is more than households in the U.K. and not far off the peak reached by U.S. households in 2005. The report also said housing prices are now falling and inventories of unsold homes are rising sharply in Canada, suggesting that this market turnaround will not be a transitory phenomenon. However, the prevailing view is that Canada's lenders have issued few of the type of subprime mortgages that sparked the U.S. crisis. In addition, a recent study showed that Canadian residential properties are not overvalued in most cities. With files from the Canadian Press lien
  20. Builders face financing squeeze 'We can expect a solid demand for condominiums well into the future' TERRENCE BELFORD From Friday's Globe and Mail September 5, 2008 at 12:00 AM EDT Remember how A Tale of Two Cities starts? Charles Dickens writes, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Stretch that theme a bit and you might be describing what is about to happen in the Toronto-area condominium market. First, the best of times. According to Urbanation Inc., which tracks condos from the Burlington border to Ajax and Whitby, there were a record 295 projects for sale at the end of June. Of these, 147 were under construction and another 38 new ones were ready to break ground. Behind those projects stood 151 different developers, and for many of them it was their first shot at building a condo. Those first-timers were mainly house builders who could no longer find building lots. Their choice was either to move into condos or fold their tents. So on the plus side, prospective buyers have never had greater choice. Now on to the worst of times. That impressive number of projects may prove to be the Greater Toronto Area's version of a Potemkin Village by the end of the year. Veteran market watchers say that up to a third of them are likely to be pulled from the market. Along with them, up to 50 developers may bite the dust. The reason? They are unlikely to find financing, says Barry Lyon. He is a 40-year veteran of the Toronto area real estate market. His company, N. Barry Lyon Consulting Ltd., provides research, marketing and project management to the condo and commercial sectors. "The U.S. credit crunch means the money to build just is not there," he says. "The tap has run dry." So, what determines who gets the money to build? In large part, GTA condo buyers. Developers need to presell about 60 per cent of the units in any project before lenders will take a look at providing the money to build. Equally important, they have to do it within reasonable time frames. As their marketing and sales teams scurry to sell suites, construction and carrying costs for high-priced land are ticking upwards. Mr. Lyon says he would not be surprised to see some developers pulling projects out of the market because those costs have risen to such an extent that they simply can't make a buck going ahead. "In some cases, even with 60 per cent sold, some developers are still going to have a hard time finding financing," he says. It is not that there is any lack of demand. It remains strong, says Jane Renwick, executive vice-president of Urbanation. But it is nowhere near the levels seen in 2007, which was a banner year for the industry. Thanks to record sales in 2007, 76 per cent of the 66,310 suites on the market at the end of June had already been snapped up. "I think a lot of last year's sales went to first-time buyers," she says. "I also think that most of them have now been absorbed so we are looking at a return to a more stable market — less of a gold-rush mentality." Again on the plus side of demand is the lure the GTA holds for immigrants. Ms. Renwick points out that of the 150,000 people who immigrate to Ontario in any given year, 100,000 of them make their way to the Toronto area. "If that trend continues, if we continue with high employment and if the economy continues to expand, we can expect a solid demand for condominiums well into the future," she says. That demand will continue to be strongest within the old city of Toronto. That is where 70 per cent of today's projects sit, says Mr. Lyon. It is also where prices are highest — an average $461 a square foot, versus $418 a year ago, according to Urbanation. Compare that with $294 in Scarborough, $254 in Pickering, $287 in Ajax and $313 in Aurora. Much of the difference is simply the cost of land to build on. But in that area Mr. Lyon suggests the coming shakeout may bring positive benefits to buyers. He says the loss of about a third of the developers today jockeying for land and bidding against each other to arrange construction crews likely means less competition for available resources. Less competition means lower demand and lower demand usually leads to, if not lower prices, then at least a much slower rise in prices. "It is going to be an interesting year," Mr. Lyon says. "By the end of 2008, the GTA's condo market may be a quite different place." Terrence Belford is a veteran journalist covering the Toronto real estate market.
  21. Mediocre job performance is better than the alternative JAY BRYAN, The Gazette Published: 7 hours ago Canada's job market is in mediocre shape, we discovered yesterday, and when you look at the alternative, this is wonderful news. For the past few weeks, many economic forecasters have been nervously asking themselves if Canada could resist the powerful recessionary undertow from a slumping U.S. economy or whether we'd fall into a downturn similar to the one that's under way south of the border. The final answer might not be available for a little longer, but yesterday's August job reports out of Ottawa and Washington make it clear that, for now, Canada is doing much better than the U.S. and is certainly nowhere near recession. In Canada, employment grew by a solid, if uninspiring, 15,200 jobs, returning to growth after two months of declines. That left the unemployment rate at 6.1 per cent, just above its record low of 5.8 per cent in February. So far this year, the Canadian economy has created 86,900 jobs. In the U.S, by contrast, August proved to be the eighth month in a row of shrinking employment, with 605,000 jobs lost (divide by 10 for a rough equivalence to Canadian numbers) since the beginning of this year. Unemployment south of the border jumped to a five-year high of 6.1 per cent - which sounds low to Canadians, but because of differences in measurement methods, is approximately equivalent to a Canadian unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent. Canada's modestly good job report reinforces the rationale for the Bank of Canada's decision to hold interest rates steady this week. The bank's targeted rate is already quite low at three per cent, and there's no clear need to pump emergency stimulus into the economy. Indeed, one of the the country's weakest sectors in recent years, manufacturing, has shown surprising resilience this year. As of August, factory employment was down by just 14,000, or 0.7 per cent, for this year. That's quite an accomplishment, given the plunge in car purchases by U.S. shoppers, who are the key market for Ontario's giant auto industry. In fact, Ontario has done quite well for a manufacturing province heavily dependent on U.S. customers. So far this year, it has created 51,900 jobs and its unemployment rate has actually edged down to 6.3 per cent from last December's 6.5 per cent, thanks to strong employment in construction and service industries. Ironically, Quebec, another big manufacturing province, hasn't done nearly as well, even though its big aerospace industry is much healthier than the auto industry, helping Quebec's factory sector create some jobs this year. Still, Quebec is one of the few provinces not to have enjoyed overall job growth so far in 2008. In fact, employment has shrunk by 25,200, while the unemployment rate has risen to 7.7 per cent from 7.0 per cent at the end of last year. Montreal's unemployment rate is up just 0.1 per cent so far this year, to 7.3 per cent in August, but this doesn't reflect any better performance than Quebec's on the employment front. The city actually lost 15,700 jobs in the first eight months of the year, but this was mostly offset by the 13,000 workers who abandoned the Montreal job market, making them disappear from the unemployment calculation. They might have found better opportunities elsewhere, gone back to school or simply stopped looking after a tough job search.On the provincial level, Quebec construction employment has been lukewarm and consumer-oriented service industries like retailiing have been shedding jobs, notes economist Sébastien Lavoie at Laurentian Bank Securities. As well, education employment has shrunk in Quebec as it grew in Ontario. Lavoie suggests that Quebec consumers may feeling worried enough to be cutting back on spending, while in Ontario's bigger, more diverse economy, there are still enough areas of growth to offset the auto industry's distress. Nevertheless, Ontario's ability to shrug off the U.S. economy's distress could be living on borrowed time, warns economist Douglas Porter at BMO Capital Markets. There are layoff announcements and factory closings that have yet to go into effect, he notes. And as for Ontario's boom in condo and office construction, "I have to wonder how long it can hang on."
  22. Montreal house prices hold steady The Gazette Monday, October 06, 2008 Montreal's real-estate market remained steady during the third quarter, with average house prices experiencing single-digit gains, according to a House Price Survey report released yesterday by Royal LePage Real Estate Services. A decline in unit sales was recorded, however. While activity levels have rescinded since last year, average listing periods have actually shortened by a few days, compared to the same period 12 months prior. Of the 10 Montreal markets examined, the average price of a detached bungalow increased by 4.8 percent to $236,045, a standard two-storey home appreciated by 0.5 per cent to $336,381 and a standard condominium rose by 4.4 per cent to $204,336, year-over-year. "House prices in Montreal are inching upwards, despite an increase in listing inventory and the fact that there are slightly fewer unit sales," said Gino Romanese, senior vice-president of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. "When looking at Montreal's current housing market, we need to realize that 2007 shattered records," he added. "It's unrealistic to believe that that pace can be kept up for very long." © The Gazette 2008 http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=952e9c04-7da1-4b47-8865-fd882d7d860b
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