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Lépine-Simpson

 

Architectes: DCYSM

Fin de la construction:2008

Utilisation: Résidentiel

 

Emplacement: Centre-ville, Montréal

 

? mètres - 13 étages

 

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Condo project approved

May 25, 1987; Blaze destroys downtown Unitarian Church

 

 

Almost 20 years after arson devastated the Unitarian church downtown, demolition crews began picking through the remains yesterday morning in the first phase of building a condominium complex at the site.

 

- - -

 

The lot at Sherbrooke St. W. and Simpson St. has been strewn with rubble since the 1987 blaze that killed two firefighters. The fire was set by the church's organist, who was eventually sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for criminal negligence causing death.

 

After nearly two years of negotiating building plans with the Ville Marie borough, developer Rene Lepine's latest proposal got the go-ahead last month.

 

The borough accepted Lepine's proposal for a 12-storey luxury condo building, even though bylaws permit only 10 storeys.

 

Borough spokesperson Jacques-Alain Lavallee said two exceptions were granted: one for the height of the building and one for the 80 indoor parking spaces - 26 more than bylaws permit.

 

The city estimates building costs at $21 million. The project is expected to be completed by October 2007. The project, in the heart of the city's elegant and historic Square Mile, has sparked debate among nearby residents.

 

Some fear the new complex will affect the view from their homes and will block sunlight.

 

Beverly Spanier lives in the 33-storey Port Royal tower, next to the lot. She questions the exceptions allowed by the city and argued the condo complex will block the sunlight from some of the units in her tower.

 

"The city must follow some kind of plan. This was supposed to be a 10-storey project and now it's 12 storeys," she said.

 

Megan Breckenridge, a Simpson St. resident, said she's worried the architecture of the new structure won't blend with other buildings in the neighbourhood.

 

"I don't want some giant, gaudy eyesore," she said.

 

Yesterday, workers were salvaging red bricks that are to be used in the construction of the new building to "bring back some of the memory" of the church, Lepine said.

 

Plywood that covered the windows was removed, revealing graffiti scrawled across the remaining walls of the ravaged church.

 

Lepine defended his project yesterday, saying: "We never had a modern-looking building" in mind.

 

Architectural gems from different eras, made mainly of stone or brick, line the Square Mile. Lepine said his condo complex will fit in with other buildings in the area.

 

He bought the lot in 2004 and initially approached the city in December 2004 for permission to build a 13-storey, 40-unit luxury condominium building. That plan was rejected. So were his three other modifications until the last one - the 12-storey, 36-unit building - was approved.

 

"Opponents were quite vocal," borough spokesperson Lavallee said of residents at borough meetings.

 

But to his surprise, Lavallee said, only nine residents signed a register in June that would determine whether a referendum would be held on the issue.

 

At least 58 signatures, one per civic address, were needed to call a referendum.

 

Asked why the city allowed the lot to remain in ruins for nearly 20 years, Lavallee cited a 1999 proposal to erect a 24-storey hotel. That plan sparked an outcry from local residents and the project was abandoned.

 

Dan Ibch, another Simpson St. resident, said he welcomes the development. "It's a perfect spot for condos, actually," he said.

 

"There are condos going up everywhere. I don't see any problem with it. What else would they build here?"

 

George Shuster, who lives in the Linton apartment block adjacent to the church's ruins, said he would have preferred the city transform the rubble into a park.

 

He pointed out that he did not support initial drawings submitted for the project, but added: "I'm sure Mr. Lepine will put up an excellent building."

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Je sais pas trop quoi penser de cette tour... Mais je trouve que le rendu se rapproche un peu de celui des Beauxarts, et je trouve la tour très bien complétée!

 

En plus, ils ont les mêmes balcons en haut.

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