Maxera project matches city’s drive for renewal

JOEL CEAUSU SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE

February 15, 2014

Charlie Migliara wants to sell 150 homes in Côte St-Luc. But in speaking about his experience as project manager for the new townhouse and condominium complex, he sounds like he’s going to miss the neighbourhood when this project is done.

The Griffith-McConnell Residence, long empty and deteriorating, will be demolished to make way for Parkhaven Courtyard, a townhouse/condominium complex being built on the site in Côte-St-Luc.

Parkhaven Courtyard will be built on a 130,000-square-foot piece of land bordered by Kildare Rd. and Parkhaven and Trinity Aves., site of the former Griffith-McConnell seniors’ residence which, after half a century, ironically lost relevance in a community identified with an aging population. The rezoning from institutional to residential, for a housing development to replace decaying l ow-lying buildings and a high-rise left idle for three years, opened the door to the project by Maxera Group — Migliara’s uncle, Johnny Migliara, is president — for 50 townhouses and a tower in what was originally previewed as five phases, but may evolve to only three. “Phase 2 may get underway faster than forecast due to popularity,” Charlie said. “Phase 1 is already sold out.”

The 50 townhouses will be built within 24 months — Phase 1 delivery is set for this fall — and so far, everything has gone better than expected, Migliara said. “We predicted a certain clientele: youth in the area ready to buy their first place, maybe parents investing for their children, young professionals and growing families. That’s 100-per-cent exactly what happened. Those are the people coming to purchase.

“The problem in Côte-St-Luc is that all the stock is very old, so you’re left with two choices: buy an old home and renovate, or buy turnkey, but there’s not that much around.

“I wish there was more land available here,” he said with a laugh. “I would buy it all up.”

That turnkey model is what he and other developers — like those behind the seminal CentrePointe development down the road that rejuvenated the Cavendish Mall area — are counting on.

“It’s stress-free,” Migliara said, “and the old way of thinking about townhouses — as ‘skinny’ homes — no longer applies.”

The look is what he calls a classic English-style townhouse, incorporating timeless red brick and other hues, and a judicious use of an aluminum palette for contrast.

“We could have gone for a more modern style, but we knew that in 10 years it wouldn’t work,” Migliara said. “This design (by Saroli Palumbo Architects) guarantees that in a few years, people will think these homes have always belonged here.”

“…The services at Côte-St-Luc city hall are outstanding. …The people know what they are doing — they understand. They want to make things work and are proud of their community.” Charlie Migliara

The three- and four-bedroom units feature two or more baths, two private underground parking spots plus a mezzanine, leaving the option open for another bedroom, bathroom, office or playroom. From thermoplastic kitchen cabinets and wraparound quartz islands to walk-in closets and high-end porcelain floors, the options and looks are limitless, thanks to an in-house Italian design team.

Plans for the tower are not finalized, and will be decided as Phase 2 evolves.

“What we’ve seen is couples coming in and looking at houses, with their parents inquiring about high-rise units. We’ll see how demand evolves before deciding, but we’re looking at more than 100 units from 800 to 1,200 square feet (for the tower).”

In Côte-St-Luc, where many streets bear the odd juxtaposition of ostentatious rebuilds adjacent to aging and neglected housing stock, any new residential development is a big deal. While he says that condominium development around Montreal can be seen as excessive, Migliara maintains the condo tide over the last decade has been a good thing overall.

“People get to shop and compare, learning about what they like. Montrealers have become educated buyers.”

Maxera’s price point fits its target market, starting at $535,000 (condo fees average about $1,200 a year); it’s betting on those young professionals and growing families with cash to spend and no patience for headaches, which drove much of the project’s planning.

That shows in the light touch applied to common amenities, forgoing pools, gyms or large expansive courtyards.

“We passed on all of that,” he said. “In general, people don’t like condo associations, and tend to find stuff like that a nuisance down the road.” In five to 10 years, Migliara predicted, “there would be disagreement over pool responsibilities, who’s in charge and such.” So instead of add-ons costing money and consuming time, courtyard residents get attractively landscaped central green spaces, front yards, large private decks and plenty of trees.

Besides, part of the hype around the Parkhaven project is its proximity to the city’s aquatic centre. With three pools, gymnasium, dance studios, libraries, parks, arena, tennis courts and the bulk of the city’s leisure activities in the Parkhaven Courtyard orbit, the residential project is a perfect match for Côte-St-Luc’s drive to renewal.

Migliara has been buoyed by the city’s reaction to the project.

“Often it’s hard for companies to work with certain communities’ bylaws, rules and way of working, but the services at CôteSt-Luc city hall are outstanding. I call and someone actually answers. The people know what they are doing — they understand. They want to make things work and are proud of their community.”

Migliara said that shows in the savvy of the people stepping into the bright orange on-site sales office.

“We see it in the people coming in to buy; they Maxera project matches city’s drive for renewal.”

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