Big changes ahead for Mile End’s garment district

The old industrial area in the east part of Mile End, between St. Laurent and Henri Julien is set for a makeover. Yesterday, the city announced that $8.8 million will be invested in a two-year project meant to polish the district’s streets and improve its connections with surrounding neighbourhoods.

Later this year, overhead electrical wires will be buried, new lampposts installed and sidewalks widened along St. Viateur from St. Laurent to de Gaspé. Then, next year, the city will extend St. Viateur from de Gaspé to Henri Julien. Finally, in 2010, a new pedestrian bridge will be built over the CPR tracks between Henri Julien and the rue des Carrières, giving Mile Enders easier access to Rosemont metro.

At its heart, these investments are meant to attract new real estate development — the city expects $250 million worth of new residential and commercial projects in the east of Mile End over the next ten years. It makes sense: look at at the area from above and you’ll see that most of it is woefully underused, with an abundance of low-slung light industrial buildings, parking lots and vacant lots.

Across the CPR tracks, even more ambitious plans are in store for the city-owned last just east of Rosemont metro as well as the STM bus garage at the corner of Rosemont and St. Denis. Yesterday, the mayor estimated that at least 3,000 new apartments will be built within walking distance of the metro.


  1. Extending St-V makes sense, but I’ll miss that vacant lot… attended plenty of impromptu drunken bonfires there.

  2. *start sarcasm*

    Don’t forget the bike paths, and some green spots. Oh yah and we can’t tear down anybuilding because they were built before 1983 therefore they could be part of our heritage. We also need some neighborhood stores, so no big surface there. And finally, all the Jewish sweatshops are part of our history right?

    *end sarcasm*

  3. i can see this – makes sense. but, i sure hope it doesn’t turn into another suburb in the city… plus, i’m getting tired of getting pushed out of the neighbourhoods i’ve “colonized”.

    this site would be perfect to develop for some low-income/affordable, artist/co-op, family type stuff… something human-scale, to counteract the high-rise tunnel effect of some of these buildings.

    we don’t need any “suburbs” in the city!

  4. I know that the municipal yards project EAST of métro Rosemont will include a good percentage of social housing (such as co-operatives) but hope the same provision will apply to the St-Viateur extension.

    A question for spacing – what are the limits of “Mile End”. The garment area certainly extends east to what would usually be considered the Plateau, and north of the viaduct, which is definitely part of La Petite Patrie.

    I hope that housing can also be built on the land once set aside for the “super-hospital”, and which is kind of a no-person’s-land between the north of Mile-End/Plateau and Petite-Patrie/Petite Italie. These areas have excellent public transport access and are not far from shopping.

  5. I couldn’t be happier. I live on the east side of St-Denis, by Laurier Park, and looking out my back balcony I can easily see the dome of St. Michael’s. Unfortunately, to get there requires a long walk-around, especially when that vacant lot is wet and muddy.
    It’s nice to see Mile-End doing so well, and yet kinda sucks to live so close and have a hard time getting there.
    BTW, slutsky, I had your job at the Mirror right before you. :)

  6. The grey towers and surrounding brick industrial buildings that are still standing have maybe less textile businesses than 10 years ago, but they are now fully populated with small businesses, shops and visual artist studios owned by Mile-End residents, and by a large part of the artists and small businesses that where obliged to move away from Montreal’s previous creative nests: the (now empty and rotting) buildings from the Balmoral lot downtown, the 10 Ontario West building (now the empty and rotting SLEB), the Grover Building, the buildings on the north side Mont-Royal west of Saint-Laurent. It sounds more that this is an other city project that wants to capitalize on the ‘creativity’ of the neighbourhood to attract investors and then force the creative people away by changing the zoning qualification from commercial/industrial to residential, and by an increased land value that will lead to a rent hike.

    Also, in order to prolong St-Viateur to the East, the city will expropriate and destroy on of these places (the Jeans Jeans Jeans building, that actually got renovated recently).

  7. Personally, I would pull up all the asphalt and bring the existing cobble stone back.

    There aren’t that many streets with that touch to class these days. Add some quaint lighting, sidewalk cafe’s to with those wider sideawalks. some flower beds and bury the power and phone lines and you have a major draw.

  8. Complain? No. It’s a call for action so the city finally recognises its areas of microeconomy and underground creativity and protects them instead of constantly wiping them away.

    These places are vital for creation, and they are constantly following this vicious circle of getting pushed further and further away from the downtown core becaus there is no structure that allows the spaces to be acknowledged and kept accessible to artists. It would be short sighted to only see the government subsidized artistic and creative organisiations and mega-million cultural center building projects getting the favor of the city. Keeping private affordable low-profile commercial rental units near the gallery, theater and music venue district ensures the artistic vitality our city is having right now.

  9. And don’t forget the yuppie paradox: They want to move to the cool hip neighbourhoods with all the neat shops but then they can’t tolerate non-bourgeois activities like loud parties and homeless people. This is my biggest fear. Look at those a-holes living in the condos above Parc des Amériques who tried to shut down the Fringe Festival and the sale of beer there.

  10. christopher: very good idea to recover the cobblestone! and while we’re at it, let’s close it to the cars as well to make it a pedestrian zone. when well designed they have incredible flair (think i.e. european city cores) and invite people to wander around in the warm season – something that’s definitely lacking in montreal but could fit in so nicely in the plateau neighborhood!

  11. Who’s complaining? It’s called constructive criticism. Noone listened when you or your cousin or friend lived and worked in Ten Ontario -> SLEB and they kicked out the artists. Is it a yuppie “paradise”? Nope. Is it finished? Nope again. What was the point? None. Greed lead to disaster.

    The buildings in the St-Laurent x Maguire x St-Viateur x Carmelite convent area are full of artists, a variety of textiles and textiles-related firms, and small businesses that are craft- or trade-related. Not to mention, of course, Ubisoft and all the other loft residents at the corner of St-Laurent x St-Viateur. Hopefully the current residents, moneyed and otherwise, can help inspire a human-scale development.

    For the happiest mix, it is most respectfully suggested that the city actually participate in consultation with the people who live and work in this area before they go do something similar to what is happening in Griffintown, or similar to putting condos next to Schwartz’s or Coco Rico or the Main Hall — where the new ex-suburban neighbours start complaining about the “smells” and “noises” of a lively neighbourhood.

  12. Fran, actually there is a condo going up on St-Laurent not far from Schwartz’s – think it is where a building was gutted by fire. I imagine the ground floor will be occupied by businesses though.

    There is actually a problem with the Fringe Festival, and not just for the people in the condos above it – it has grown a great deal and is in a very small park (des Amériques); moreover it confiscates the park from local citizens, not just yuppies but also people who live in little flats with no balconies or gardens. I think it might not be a bad idea to move it to a somewhat larger (but still central and urban) venue.

    I do find the criticism here very constructive by and large – I don’t see anyone opposing changes that would make the area more inviting, improve access and safety (I find it a bit scary in the evenings, having been there to gallery openings) but quite rightly fearing massive gentrification or plans that don’t take into account the interests and opinions of local residents, workers and small business owners.

  13. comment to stf:

    while exposing the cobblestones and shutting off the street to motor vehicles is a nice idea, how are trucks going to access the loading docks to the de gaspe buildings?

    also, the condo building that just went up at the corner of de gaspe and fairmount is horrid.

  14. thank you Christopher. makes a difference I guess but it’s still no excuse for bad planning.

  15. Does anyone have information about some expropriation that the city was doing in order to expand a hospital. I know parts of St. Denis (below Rene Levesque) were being expropriated. I think the Videotron building was also taken over.

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