Building a new market in Vieux-Longueuil

Most real estate developments don’t have their own blogs. The Marché du Vieux-Longueuil is different. Louis Voizard, its developer, is tracking its planning and eventual construction with frequent and unusually frank posts. Here’s his description of the project, which which would be built on the site of a former car dealership on St. Charles Street, the main drag in Longueuil’s old downtown:

Ce secteur de la rue Saint-Charles a grandement besoin d’être revitalisé à plusieurs points de vue. D’abord, au plan architectural, cet immeuble, indigne de l’artère commerciale Saint-Charles, sera rasé et remplacé par une construction dont l’architecture s’appuiera sur les critères environnementaux LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) et sera en harmonie avec le quartier. Le site sera paysagé au profit de la population résidante. Ne pas oublier également que le site sera entièrement décontaminé avant toute construction. Nous en avons pris l’engagement.

On s’inquiète souvent de l’arrivée d’un développement commercial dans une zone où des commerçants sont déjà implantés. On craint un impact sur ces marchands. Si c’était vrai, pourquoi de petits commerçants n’hésitent-ils pas à s’implanter dans des centres commerciaux et même dans ce qu’on appelle les Power Centres ? C’est parce qu’ils savent qu’ils vont bénéficier de la variété de l’offre (le mix commercial) et qu’ils vont avoir plus de clients. Les marchands n’ont rien à craindre de notre projet, pas plus que les résidants qui profiteront d’une offre commerciale plus variée, à proximité de chez eux.

Seems innocuous enough, right? Well, shortly after it was announced, somebody distributed anonymous flyers around Vieux-Longueuil warning against the market, claiming that it was actually a big box store in disguise. In response, the developer posted an impassioned defense of his project on the market’s blog, pointing out that it would only be a fraction of the size of a typical big box store.

Other residents are concerned that some of the market’s retail space will contain a bar (it won’t) or a café (that idea was quashed at a recent public hearing). From what I can tell, though, there is little about it that would pose a threat to the surrounding neighbourhood. The parking lot seems a bit big, but at least it’s tucked away at the back of the site. If anything, having a market on St. Charles would be a great source of activity for the street.

Check the Marché du Vieux-Longueuil’s blog for more news on the development.

6 comments

  1. The aerial view on the project blog reminds me a lot the Metro/Pharmaprix on Queen Mary/Chemin de la Cote-des-Neiges.

    I think it really can be something good for this historic part of Longueuil.

  2. I don’t know the area very well, but I wonder why the citizens would be against a bar or a café? In my own neighbourhood – ndg around sherbrooke W – the Cafe/Showspace is a great focal point for the the neighbourhood folks to work, meet eachother, and discover music and art…who could be against that?

    It reminds me of the time I attended a town meeting in Beaconsfield and residents argued loudly against building sidewalks along their streets. Perhaps i can’t see through my own urban bias?

  3. AH, I think it’s because there are already a lot of bars and restaurants on St. Charles, so I think it’s perfectly reasonable to want a more balanced commercial district. Not wanting a café seems a bit odd, though, since those are usually more locally-oriented than restaurants and bars.

    Incidentally, NDG has prohibited any new bars from opening anywhere in the borough except along the St. Jacques strip, so the anti-bar mentality extends into more urban neighbourhoods, too.

  4. http://www.google.ca/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=&q=longueuil&ie=UTF8&ll=45.525983,-73.521023&spn=0.021227,0.039911&t=h&z=15&om=1

    The link above shows a Google Maps satellite shot of the area surrounding the Longueuil Métro stop.

    While the idea of revamping Saint-Charles is a WONDERFUL idea, Longueuil still faces one single desperate issue that prevents it from being the Brooklyn of Montreal: the smattering of expressways that converge directly outside the Métro stop, as you can see from the link. These prevent any pedestrian trips leading directly from the station. The highways must be burrowed underground or redeveloped (look at Park Avenue or the Ville-Marie highway tunnel for example). It would be an expensive endeavour, but one that would make Longueuil a more vital destination. In fact, the city could make a fortune in tax and land money from potential high density development on the area where the highways now sit.

    As it stands, visitors keen on exploring the South Shore are greeted with enormous concrete highways that are unusually difficult to cross by foot. It’s a shame because historic rue Sainte-Charles is so close to the station, and “1957” is a very fun bar.

  5. Brendan Rahman is right. A few years ago I was teaching in Vieux-Longueuil (I live near Jean-Talon market) and it was horrific crossing those motorways by bicycle. It is a very short walk from the station, but made perillous and unpleasant by that barrier. Indeed that area should be developed as high-density mixed-used building – commercial, businesses and residential, with a good provision of greenery.

    While a bar can cause noise problems, I see no objection whatsoever to a café in a market – look at the café in the middle of the enclosed part of the Jean-Talon market. Not only is it a draw for customers, it is somewhere they can sit and chat if they are tired (older people, parents with small children) or simply meet friends there.

  6. When I recommended this blog to First Capital, I knew what I was doing and I was sure it would be a powerful communication tool. So far, the results are extraordinary. Correct me if I am wrong but this could be the first time a promoter uses a blog to establish a dialogue with members of a community. I currently blog about this experience at http://pierre-bouchard.com.

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