September 6, 2022

Vacant Lot 50-150 Louvain West: Building for the future

650,000 square feet of vacant land just waiting to be developed. There are very few opportunities for a neighbourhood or city to have to rethink such a large space. That is why, for several years now, the SDC District Central has made the development of this vacant lot at 50-150 Louvain West a priority. With a call for innovative urban projects (APUI) announced in 2022, the coming months will be decisive. After numerous consultations, the SDC, supported by a community of experts, has drawn up the outlines of a project that it describes as the cornerstone for the development of its territory and intends to promote it.

Vacant lot, 50-150 Louvain West in the District Central

The community would like to see the emergence of a diverse environment made up of a happy mix of residential, commercial and institutional spaces, urban manufacturing, greenery and public space between Louvain and Chabanel streets, Saint-Laurent Boulevard and de l’Esplanade Avenue. All of this, without excluding the City’s original intention to make this site a multi-service municipal yard.

According to Martine Peyton, President of ÉLÉMENTS Planification urbaine, which has been supporting the SDC on this project since the very beginning, “while it is true that cohabitation is an issue, particularly between residential and roadway uses, there are ways to integrate everything harmoniously. Cities like San Francisco have already succeeded in doing so.” From her perspective, “there is no reason why, by giving ourselves a little time to think about it, especially with regard to transportation corridors, it can’t be done. The land to be developed is so vast that the possibilities are endless.”

Urban culture: One of the results expressed during the design charrette on the vacant lot carried out by the SDC District Central in summer 2021. Art and green spaces in the spotlight.


The idea of developing the back of the buildings along Chabanel Street is one of the possibilities being considered to facilitate cohabitation. Architect Michel Lauzon, President of LAAB collective and one of the expert volunteers on this project, also sees the opportunity to add a signature touch to the project. “As its name suggests, the Passage Off Chabanel, if it were to be realized, would bring life to an area that has been little used until now, on the fringe of the main thoroughfares.”

More importantly, according to Lauzon, the converted alleyway “could become the backbone of the area, embodying the underground artistic culture that is emerging in the neighbourhood.” Pedestrian-focused and integrating natural elements (plants and water), the passage would also break through the territory and facilitate travel to nearby public transportation infrastructures, including the Sauvé metro.

The idea is not a new one. Other cities have revitalized former industrial areas by exploiting the rear of existing buildings and transforming the use of space formerly reserved for loading docks. This is the case in Miami and its now famous Design District or, closer to home, in Toronto, with the Distillery District.

For Hélène Veilleux, Executive Director of the SDC District Central, these projects, which have become benchmarks in terms of development, have in common that they were born out of a clash of ideas. “Innovation, real innovation, comes from dialogue. Everything that was thought of for the vacant lot emerged because for the last 5 years we brought people together with different profiles and interests. Entrepreneurs, experts and residents have discussed and envisioned together an environment likely to respond to the social, cultural and economic challenges of the territory. These points of agreement, which are above socially acceptable levels, must be integrated in the call for projects to allow for innovation.”

To put it more clearly, in the Executive Director’s opinion, the idea of looking at future development from a strictly economic or commercial perspective for fear of potential cohabitation issues would be a mistake. “The people who have spoken out at our consultations are proposing the creation of a true living environment, where everyone can find what they are looking for and where new spaces are complementary to the 25 million square feet of existing built environment, 4 million of which remains vacant. Whatever the scenario, mixed use is key. The message has been said over and over again and will be repeated as often as is necessary. The stakes are too high for the redevelopment of the District Central. We need to get the message out, if only out of respect for the diverse group of people who have participated in the consensus on this issue. I am convinced,” says Hélène Veilleux in conclusion, “that together we can agree on an innovative scenario that truly reflects the area. We are talking about the future of the District Central and we want to be among those who contribute to making it possible”.


Aerial view of the vacant lot on Louvain West, in the heart of the District Central




View the results of the Design Charette on the vacant lot HERE >>



About the SDC District Central
The SDC District Central is the catalyst and the voice for the Ahuntsic-Cartierville business world. It represents the combined forces of 1,800 business leaders united to develop a sector with outstanding economic, urban, and human potential. Its mission is clear: breathe new life into this legendary quarter, make it shine on a broader stage and propel it to the very top of Montreal’s economic landscape. Covering 3 square kilometres, the District Central is the 4th largest employment hub in Montreal with 25,000 workers made up of three main business hubs: design, urban manufacturing, and technology.

About the District Central
The District Central is a unique economic hub in the heart of Montreal. Today, the District Central is home to more than 25,000 workers, making it the 4th largest concentration of employment in Montreal, and its growth is in full swing. The territory is moving away from the textiles sector and shifting to the urban manufacturing, design and technology sectors. The District Central covers three square kilometres, bordered by highways 40 and 15, and highway 40 to Sauvé Street.
To learn more about the District Central business area >>


The Charrette Expert Committee – SDC District Central
On a volunteer basis

Emmanuel Amar, IDX Design + Com
Valérie Beaulne, ELEMENTS Planification urbaine
Maxime Brosseau, Zaraté Lavigne Architectes
Stéphanie Cardinal, Humà design + architecture
Carolyn Kelly Dorais, Zaraté Lavigne Architectes
Alie-Clarence Dupuis, LNDMRK & Festival Mural
Lorelei L’Affeter, Humà design + architecture
Michel Lauzon, LAAB
Michelle Lortie, ELEMENTS Planification urbaine
Martine Peyton, ELEMENTS Planification urbaine
Nancy Picard, Éco Transition
Anne-Catherine Richard, Humà design + architecture
Jacqueline Saucier, Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ

The Charrette Expert Committee – SDC District Central
On a volunteer basis

Jacqueline Saucier, committee president & Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ
Maxime Brosseau, Zaraté Lavigne Architectes
Michel Caumartin, Quadreal-Marché Central
Delia De Gasperis, CGS Québec Inc.
Frédérick Lizotte, AEDN Realty
Adnane Ramromi, Groupe SolAirEau
Sylvain Simard, Simard Architecture
Howard Szalavetz, Les Immeubles HS
Gabriel Tupula, Big Bang
Hélène Veilleux, SDC District Central
Geneviève Dufour, SDC District Central
Martine Peyton, ELEMENTS Planification urbaine


– Translation of an article published on The Urban development institute of Quebec (UDI) website.  To view the original article, click here >>

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