Friday, March 21, 2014

The Journal de Montréal on the Delights of Verdun's Wellington St.

 The Journal has a nice spread with photos talking about Verdun's renaissance and especially about our vibrant main drag, Wellington, or "la Well" as apparently the hipsters are calling it.

'Tis true that not so long ago the only reason you'd see mention of Verdun in the local papers was if someone set fire to a building in an insurance scam, got shot or a patient at the Douglas Hospital wandered off the grounds. Those days are gone.

Now, thanks to its affordable housing, excellent public transit and proximity to the beautiful St. Lawrence River, Verdun is attracting young families and enrepreneurs with plenty of ideas and energy.
Fromagerie Copette + Cie
The Journal talks about some of great boutiques and restaurants: Boulangerie Sweet Lee's, Copette + cie, a fancy cheese shop with excellent bread and Belgian waffles on the weekend, Benelux, the artisanal brasserie in the old Bank of Montreal building, Blackstrap BBQ and Station W, recently voted one of Montreal's top 10 cafes.
Station W

Why would anyone want to live anywhere else?

Samcon, Montreal Condo Developer, Proposing Massive Project on Point Rail Yards

Twitter is exploding this morning (well, at least among urban development geeks) with news that Samcon, a condo builder known for its small-scale and affordably priced condo projects, has announced plans to build 850 condos on the old CN rail yards in Point St. Charles.
The rail yards are south of Bridge St. and east of Wellington. I've just noticed that Google has written "Sebastapol" as "Sevastopol". Hm, does this have anything to do with Russia's annexation of Crimea?

No news release yet, but the company, which has found success by targeting first-time and mid-price buyers, says that 75 per cent of the offering will be "affordable" housing.
Two things, what will the reaction be in the Point, where residents are well and truly fed up with the traffic and congestion that a spate of new construction has brought to the usually quiet residential streets.
Second, the land Samcon is looking at is the same parcel that the Casino de Montréal has been eyeing for some time. Before that, it seems to me that developer Vincent Chiara had a scheme to build a shopping mall and some housing.
According to reports, Sam Scalia, Samcon's president, says the new project and future projects will be developed according to principles of walkability and will be located close to public transit.
Not sure how that squares with the railyard, which is accessible to Wellington St. and a direct bus to downtown but nowhere close to a metro station.
More to come, no doubt. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Verdun to Get an Aquatic Centre

Fantastic news out of Verdun borough hall today. The local council has been quietly working towards building an indoor aquatic centre since 2009. Today, they've gone public with a budget - $18.6 million - and a projected opening date - 2016.

The complex will be built in Therrien Park, a riverside park in the south east corner of the borough. It's the last park before you hit Highway 15 South to Nuns' Island. Therrien Park already has baseball diamonds, football fields, tennis courts, a skateboard park, an outdoor pool and wading pool with water features, a playground, chalet and dog park. 

The park is also close to the Verdun Auditorium, a sometime home to junior hockey, heavy metal concerts and pro wrestling bouts. The borough is looking at redeveloping the Aud to get more use out of the arena. This could be the beginning of a new cultural and sporting axis in southwest Montreal. Woot woot!

Verdun already possesses one of the nicest outdoor pool complexes in Montreal. Our Art Deco Natatorium, built in the 1930s, was at one time considered the largest public swimming complex in Canada. It was built during the Depression and finished in 1940. Olympic swimming gold medalist Johnny Weismuller, who was also the star of the Tarzan movies, inaugurated the Nat in 1940. For indoor swimming, Verduners have had to use pools inside local high schools.

Today, the Nat has  a heating wading pool. Navi, a kayak-rental company, operates from a kiosk outside the Nat all summer long. It remains a beautiful swimming pool, with sight lines on the blue water of the St. Lawrence River.  Dreaming of summer. . .