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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Montreal’s hotel boom

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The Gazette reported today that, within the next couple years, Montreal will be home to Canada’s first location of the prestigious Waldorf=Astoria Hotel (artist’s rendition above) to be built at the corner of Guy and Sherbrooke:

Local real estate company Monit Investments will spend $200 million developing and building the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel & Residence Montreal on what is now a parking lot it owns near Guy and Sherbrooke Sts.

The 32-storey hotel, consisting of twin towers, will be modelled on its namesake on New York City’s Park Ave.

Like the Manhattan hotel, the Montreal version will be luxuriously appointed, featuring 250 guest rooms, 76 residences, nearly 1,400 square metres of ballroom and meeting space, signature restaurants, bars and a spa and fitness centre.

While most of the building will face Guy, an access onto Sherbrooke will give the hotel the cachet of an address on that more prestigious street. Being set behind the Medical Arts Building means the new building will not be subject to the 60-metre height restriction in effect for new buildings on Sherbrooke W.

The Sherbrooke access became available in 2003 when a fire destroyed three 19th-century row houses next to the Medical Arts Building.

The building will be a welcome addition to both streets, finally filling in the parking lots that scar an otherwise beautiful and architecturally rich corner of Downtown. Furthermore, if realised, the hotel will greatly enhance the downtown section of Guy along with Concordia’s new business school down the block creating a dense and diverse streetscape.

The announcement of this project is just part of the high-end hotel boom that has been sweeping Montreal over the last few years. The Gazette explains further in the same article:

Pierre Bellerose, vice-president of public relations and marketing for Tourisme Montréal, noted that the Waldorf=Astoria is part of the city’s “hotel mini-boom.”

Bellerose has compiled a list of 17 substantial hotel projects between 2006 and 2009 that have been completed or are on the boards, not including the Waldorf=Astoria. In total, more than 2,500 rooms and 100 suites and condos are being added to the city’s hotel inventory.

“There are a lot of smaller projects (under way), too, and more to be announced soon,” he said without giving any further details.

According to Bellerose, the latest boom, “not seen for more than 40 years,” started in the early 1990s with half a dozen big projects like the Hotel InterContinental Montreal, followed by the introduction from 2001 to 2003 of several boutique hotels around Old Montreal.

Mock-up of the Westin Hotel Currently under construction on St-Antoine Ouest.

A quick look around Downtown will easily prove the point. Canada’s first W hotel was recently opened in the Quatier International, a massive Westin Hotel is slated to open next door to the Hotel InterContinental (also part of the hotel boom as mentioned above and, in my opinion, one of the nicest post-war buildings in Montreal), and, as SpacingMontreal reported in January as well as yesterday, the famed Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Sherbrooke will soon be modernising and may look drastically different in the next couple years.



  1. I imagine the Sherbrooke access, via some kind of mini-plaza, will be the entrance of choice.

    I don’t share Chris enthusiasm as I believe a) the nascent Quartier Concordia seems to be the wrong place for this kind of development and b) while the artist’s rendering looks nice, I have yet to see a neo-classical/post-modern knock off that succeeds, at least in this town.

    They all look like poor cousins of the real thing. Tom Wolfe argues in Bauhaus to Our House that we simply don’t have the craftspeople or want to spend the dough to pull this sort of architecture off convincingly.

    I really hope I’m wrong, but Montreal’s downtown skyline is now being littered with second-rate knock offs, and I fear this will just be one more.

  2. This is actually an old rendering for a cancelled condo project on the same lot. It’s possible the Gazette ran it by mistake. It’s certainly way too big for a hotel with 250 rooms and 75 apartments.

  3. The Gazette made an error? Blame Steve Faguy.

    Funny, the picture posted is actually pretty Waldorfish, so it’s an understandable mistake.

  4. Sorry, my efforts at using HTML code backfired. That’ll teach me italicize.

  5. Whatever the height and style turns out to be, I’m concerned about another tall hotel so close to the mountain. More views (over downtown to the river) from the mountain blocked, and some views of the mountain’s greenery from various Quartier-Concordia locales, and immediately west of there, also obscured. (I’m at Concordia, so not a merely, ahem, academic concern for me.)

    A number of buildings in the last few decades seem to meet the letter of the not-higher-than-the mountain arrangement (i forget, is it an actual law or by-law?) while violating its spirit.

  6. I certainly hope the new W-A won’t cover up the great ghost building visible from the empty lot between Bice and Guy. It likely will, though…

  7. Look at Sherbrooke and Saint Matthew. They renovated the buildings along Sherbrooke and put a tower in the back. Some will say it works well and it s bound to in some cases though I don’t think that one is so great. All just ways around the 60 meter thing. City Hall works hard at breaking it’s own laws.

    I tend to agree with Shawn, that we seem to be putting up a lot of kitsch that has already become crass cliches elsewhere. Montreal is unique in North America and they seem to be determined to make it look as much like just any other city as they possibly can. Think Griffintown, think Atlanta. And on it goes…

  8. Dont get me wrong, Toronto is booming, Calgary is booming, Vancouver is booming more than ever… WHY NOT MONTREAL ?

    …the mountain… come on, get a life.

    Lets Montreal being a great again!!!!!

    Skyline are the best way to get density………………………………

  9. This is am exciting project and one that is perfect for Sherbrooke street and the Golden Square Mile. This rendering is a very old project for condos. It is likely that Monit and Hilton needed some kind of visual for the announcement. It is unlikely that the final product will look anything like this. This old concept dates from the post-modern era. The problem in Montreal is that developers seem to all go to hack Quebec architecture firms. It is time to think outside the box like we used to in the 1960’s in terms of design and architecture.

    As for all the anti-development/anti-height of more than 6 floors comments. I’ve got news for you: this is downtown Montreal. A major city where major buildings get built. This site is zoned for 30 storeys and thus the developers are as-of-right to build that tall. Buildings are what give our city character and grandeur. Montreal is not only about the Mountain and the river. Let’s face it. This corner needs this upscale development and this end of Sherbrooke needs it. I am sure the Sherbrooke street entrance will be something special.

    While this design is kitsch, it is possible to build modern traditional as is the case with the new 15 Central Park West in NYC – it is incredible carved limestone rising 35 floors.

  10. Edward, I hope to get back to NYC soon, and if so I’ll be sure to check that building out.

  11. 15 Central Park West is by Robert Stern and it set a record for condo prices per SF with its retro look. Stern has a building in Toronto as well ( and he would be a good fit here as well. His buildings are very much in vogue right now as the backlash against glass condos builds. (See the article today at on “The Brompton” for his latest.)

    Note that the limestone Edward mentions is nothing more than a thin veneer stapled onto the building. It is simply the fashionable cladding of the moment.

    Thrilled to see all the hotel development in Montreal. It’s amazing that people in Toronto are just now understanding how much trouble they are in regarding tourism — they missed all the warning signs as to where the new hotels were opening. Developers are not stupid, and there is a reason Toronto is the only big city on the continent without a W.

  12. Can anyone tell me when it was that our Four Seasons Hotel closed to become the Omni? They’ll seem to be the only major prestige hotel label missing from our scene, hopefully the boom could encourage them to give Montreal a second look.

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