Social housing not included in condo project's first phase

A new condo project from real estate developer Devimco officially broke ground Wednesday at Rene-Levesque Blvd. and Wolfe St -- the former Radio-Canada site. 

Phase one will be the construction of 265 condos, from small studio apartments to three-bedroom units, and with prices ranging from $230,000 to $750,000.

90 per cent of the units have already been sold.

"People are starting to come back in the city, people are starting to come back to the office tower, and a lot of people don't want to do 100 per cent [of] work from home," said James Goulet, vice president of development at Devimco.

The developer is planning to build 10 condo towers as part of the $800 million Quartier des lumieres project, which aims to revitalize a location 10 minutes east of downtown.

The goal is to eventually build schools and playgrounds in the area to attract families.

"Montreal east is going to be very good," said Devimco vice president of marketing Marco Fontaine. "It's not too expensive like downtown Montreal, and you have all the services and transportation."

20 per cent of the Quartier des lumieres project is reserved for social housing.

But in phase one of the Devimco project, no social housing will be built -- although 10 per cent of the units will be what Devimco says is affordable: $250,000 for a one-bedroom.

Social housing activists point out that 20,000 households are waiting for social housing, which they believe should be built first.

"It's a little bit ridiculous that we build so many condos again without building any social units, and that's what we need right now in Montreal," said Maxime Roy-Allard of the Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec (RCLALQ).

Roy-Allard fears the project will lead to higher property values, meaning more people won't be able to live in an area that has always been affordable.

But Devimco insists the social housing component will be part of the overall project.

For now, they say phase one is answering another need: increasing the housing availabilities in a city with a housing crisis.

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