BSR Group building most CSL projects: Six years in the making, development firm going strong

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By Isaac Olson, Free Press, Feb. 14, 2017

Ronen Basal grew up in Côte St. Luc. He has always called it home and now he is playing a key role in developing the city as director of BSR Group – an NDG-based company located at 6138 Côte St. Luc Rd., just east of Beaconsfield Ave.

Six years ago, BSR Group went from buying real estate throughout Montreal to constructing apartment complexes and homes across the island. When property prices started shooting up, construction began.

“We started with homes,” said Basal, noting those homes went in next door to the Quartier Cavendish near the corner of Cavendish Blvd. and Kildare Rd. “And we started with townhouses at the Parkhaven Courtyard.”

The new neighbourhood along the Park Place, Jubilee Rd. and The Avenue next door to Quartier Cavendish has changed the face of the city with million-dollar homes cropping up. A large, 90-unit apartment building is currently under construction there as well. Parkhaven Courtyard is a similar story, located at the corner of Kildare Rd. and Parkhaven Ave. where the developer has built 50 townhouses with three to four bedrooms each.

These projects are just the tip of the iceberg as the company has developments in NDG, Hampstead and across the island.

“We started with three employees and now we employ over 200,” said Basal. “Very successful.”

The 90-unit apartment building on The Avenue, directly across from the Quartier Cavendish, will include an indoor pool, Shabbat elevator, 24-hour security guard, appliances, ground floor commercial and more. It will be an upper-scale apartment complex, he said, that will likely attract many older people looking to downsize from their single-family homes. This is a demographic, he explained, that no longer wants all the hassle that comes with property ownership. They are looking for something more temporary.

With senior homes closing in the area, this apartment complex could be an alternative for some, he said. While it may not have assisted living, it is in close proximity to all the services found at the mall next door, he noted. Residents won’t need a car, he said, as they get all they need in the area.

Parkhaven Courtyard will be getting a 150-unit building and construction on that will begin in April. That facility, noted Basal, won’t have a pool because it is next door to the Aquatic Community Centre.

The high-end apartments will have large family rooms, 24- hour surveillance, a Shabbat elevator and more.

“We just finished a few projects on Côte St. Luc Rd.,” he added, including one right in front of the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre. Another with 59 rental units is going up where Bernie’s Auto used to be at the corner of Montclair Ave. In fact, BSR Group’s headquarters is located in a building that it developed after the previous structure burned several years ago.

“I grew up in Côte St. Luc and lived there all my life, since the age of seven when we came from Israel. Côte St. Luc is a home for me. It’s where my synagogue is. It’s where my kids go to school. It’s where my friends are.”

Basal admits that the company heads and city politicians don’t always agree, but there is a willingness to discuss issues and find compromises.

“We have a good relationship with the city councillors and mayor, which encourages us to build,” said Basal. The company builds across Montreal, but it concentrates on Côte St. Luc because, he said, “We used to be the people in two- and three-bedroom apartments. We know the market. We know what people want and we feel, knowing the market inside out, we know the demand.”

Mini R.E.C. by Le R.E.C. Room coming to Côte Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre as city expands programs for kids

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 The City of Côte Saint-Luc is greatly expanding its programs for kids with more than 30 new classes and new birthday party packages coming in the new year as Mini R.E.C. by Le R.E.C. Room comes to the Aquatic and Community Centre, or ACC.
The city will be entering into a partnership with Le R.E.C. Room to run programming, drop-in play times, birthday parties, ped day programs and winter camps. This new area inside the Aquatic and Community Centre will be referred to as Mini R.E.C. by Le R.E.C. Room.
The new programming will include art, ballet, mini jazz, hip-hop, gymnastics, gymkada and other signature programs such as FUN-Damentals, Athleti-Kids, Superhero Adventure Training, and Mini Dance Party. The birthday packages include themes such as super heroes, on the farm, princesses, music and more.
“We are making an effort to offer more programming that people want for their pre-school age children,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “By partnering with Le R.E.C. Room, we are enhancing our programs for kids. This partnership will allow for kids programming 7-days-a-week, creating an atmosphere of warmth with young children and families at our city facilities.”
The city will also be reorganizing the spaces at the ACC to create a sports and fitness corridor downstairs, and a kids and teen area upstairs. The fitness room will be moving the downstairs corridor to be closer to the locker rooms. At the upstairs corridor, the teen lounge and games rooms will move over into the former fitness room space, which has windows overlooking the indoor pools. A new kids area will be created in the former teen lounge and games room. The area will include the new Mini Gym, which is an enclosed, brightly-coloured play area for kids ages 0 to 5. Some of the table games such as foosball will be brought down to the foyer of the ACC.
“Since launching the ACC in 2011, we’ve thought about how people use the building and our programs, we’ve received feedback from the public, and we’ve performed a security audit,” Mayor Brownstein said. “That’s why we’re moving some of the spaces around to create these two distinct areas.”
People will be able to register for Mini R.E.C. by Le R.E.C. Room programs at the ACC main desk or online in the new year, once the programs are launched.
“We could not be more excited about our new partnership with the City of Côte Saint-Luc,” said creators and owners Lauren Segal and Jessica Aflalo, whose main location is at 5255 Ferrier St. “We are extremely proud of the programming we have created and cannot wait to expand our reach to this community whom we know will enjoy and benefit from it.
“Our birthday parties have been booking to capacity three months in advance and we have found ourselves turning people away. Now we have another amazing space to offer them. This fabulous new location will offer the same level of customer service and quality that people have come to know and trust, while offering exciting new packages that will work beautifully within this new space.”

Alternate parking restrictions for better snow removal operations

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Many residents in Cote Saint-Luc districts 4 and 6 will have noticed that alternate parking restriction signs have recently been installed on their street.

This is a pilot project which is being implemented in response to numerous complaints regarding snow removal operations in these areas. Due to the high density of cars on certain streets (generally those with duplexes), clearing and removing the snow in a safe and efficient manner has always been challenging. These restrictions will allow the job of snow removal to be safer and quicker. Indeed streets will be less cluttered with snow banks and parked cars and sidewalks will be cleared of snow and ice much quicker allowing for safer pedestrian travel.

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As always pedestrians, and children in particular, should steer clear from snow removal operations.

The new regulation will be in effect from November 15 to April 1. Restrictions are in effect from 8 am to 5 pm on designated days. This information is clearly marked on the signs.

The city reminds residents that overnight parking is tolerated all year long on Fridays starting at 5 pm until Saturday at sundown. The city will closely monitor the snow removal operations in these areas during this period which will enable them to make any adjustments needed in the future.

Please be sure to share this information with all the drivers in the affected areas.

If you have any questions about this project, please contact John Monteiro of the Public Works Department at 514-485-6868 ext. 3005 or jmonteiro@cotesaintluc.org.

The city thanks residents for their cooperation in helping to make Cote Saint-Luc a cleaner, and safer, community.

Who could that be knocking at my door?

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Who could it be now? Well, it may very well be your Mayor and City Councillor dropping by to say hi and to ask if you’re completely satisfied with your city services.

Mayor Mitchell and Elaine Brownstein join me in knocking on the door of the Bessners on Melling Ave.

Mayor Mitchell and Elaine Brownstein join me in knocking on the door of the Bessners on Melling Ave.

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein has been beating the pavement along with local district councillors in an effort to meet as many residents face to face as possible and to discuss matters of municipal interest to constituents. In fact, having just been elected mayor some six months ago, (taking over from me following my two month stint in the mayor’s seat) Brownstein has barely stopped going door to door since last winter. He has made his way through most districts of our city learning from residents and taking the pulse of the community.

Last week we covered one block of Melling Avenue. Residents were generally quite pleased to see their elected officials ringing their doorbells for no other reason than to say hello, or Happy New Year or to talk about the neighbourhood. Having spent more than half my life one black over on Cork Avenue I am most familiar with every house and every corner of the neighbourhood. Nevertheless, homeowners have changed substantially over the past 10 years as the last of the original owners from the late 50s and early 60s move into condos and apartments and even seniors’ residences.

That's no ordinary car parked on Melling Ave. That's Terry Segal's new all-electric Kia Soul.

That’s no ordinary car parked on Melling Ave. That’s Terry Segal’s new all-electric Kia Soul.

Mayor Brownstein is genuinely engaged in conversation from house to house along with his secret weapon, his wife Elaine, who somehow knows more people than both her politician-husband and yours truly! It was a pleasure to walk the beat with my good friends Mitch and Elaine and I look forward to continuing along and visiting many more homes this fall before the weather turns colder.

Longtime Melling Ave residents Pat and Michael Kutz greet Mayor Mitchell and Elaine Brownstein and District 6 Councillor Glenn J. Nashen. The Kutz's have lived on Melling for many decades!

Longtime Melling Ave residents Pat and Michael Kutz greet Mayor Mitchell and Elaine Brownstein and District 6 Councillor Glenn J. Nashen. The Kutz’s have lived on Melling for many decades!

Of course my exchange with residents continues throughout the year as I stay in touch via my blog and social media. I encourage all Cote Saint-Lucers to like me on Facebook or subscribe to my blog, Nashen Notes, at GlennJ.Nashen.com for all kinds of issues pertaining to their city, public safety, language rights, travel in Quebec and my latest interest, electric vehicles.

Parkhaven dirt pile to be carted away

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Dirt pile on Parkhaven at the corner of Trinity

Dirt pile on Parkhaven at the corner of Trinity

The unsightly pile of dirt at the construction site of the Parkhaven Courtyard townhouse project will finally be on its way. This eyesore was trucked over from the construction site on The Avenue many months ago much to the dismay of residents along the truck route that had to endure dirty streets and local residents on Parkhaven and Trinity avenues who’ve put up with the mess all summer long. Notwithstanding the half-hearted attempt to cover up the pile with ineffective strands of plastic and constant street washing nearby residents have endured dirty roads, windows and lawns from the constant dust.

While the dump on Parkhaven is legal in that the developer owns both construction sites, that is, on The Avenue and on Parkhaven, residents will be pleased to know that the city has received assurances that the pile will soon be carted back to The Avenue to fill in the excavation that has been prepped for the six-story building that is slowly proceeding.

Construction on The Avenue proceeds (Oct. 1, 2016)

Construction on The Avenue proceeds (Oct. 1, 2016)

Several new residents have begun moving into the Parkhaven Courtyards, a lovely project on the site of the former Griffith-McConnell Residence. This project has targeted young couples given its proximity to the Aquatic and Community Centre and the former Wagar High School (that the EMSB has twice hinted at converting back into a mainstream high school). Located in District 6, which I represent, I am looking forward to meeting my new constituents.

Meanwhile, the building across from the Cavendish Mall will hopefully soon be green-lighted for the next phase of construction. That project will see ground level retail businesses such as a cafe or restaurant with outdoor seating space out front with apartments located on the upper floors. The concept envisioned is to create a lively indoor and outdoor retail-dining experience along The Avenue, just steps away from City Hall and the public library, the Mall, new homes and several parks.

A teacher-student bond 45 years later

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Sargent Lawrence Sager, Toronto Police Service, 32 Division

Sargent Lawrence Sager, Toronto Police Service, 32 Division

Here’s a ‘schmaltzy’ story I picked up off my old friend Laurie’s Facebook page. Laurie, or Sargent Lawrence Sager, as he is officially known in the Toronto Police Service (TPS), is a son of District 6 in Cote Saint-Luc. Growing up in the late 60s and 70s in CSL, he attended Westminster Elementary School and went on to Wagar High School. He was a neighbourhood buddy of mine and eventually we volunteered together at CSL Emergency Measures Organization.

After graduating McGill University Laurie went on to join the RCMP, eventually moving to Toronto and joining the TPS, where he has served with distinction for over 27 years.

Lawrence penned these words a few days ago:

Last June, while performing my sworn duties out on the road, I received a phone call from a woman, who identified herself as Gloria Price. Ms. Price is an elementary school teacher who teaches out of Pleasant Public School in the same area that I police. She referred to me as Laurie, a name that I hadn’t heard in 40 years. You see, Ms. Price started her teaching career in 1970 at Westminster School, located in Cote St Luc, where I grew up. I happened to go to Westminster School and my Grade 2 teacher, 45 years ago was Ms. Price.

From my telephone conversation I was somewhat skeptical that the caller was the same lady that taught me, all those years ago, but incredibly, she described me exactly the way I looked back then. Needless to say, school was out for the summer, so I told her that when school reconvenes in September, I would stop by to see her.

Grade 2 student Laurie Sager with teacher, Miss Price, Westminster School, Cote Saint-Luc, 1970.

Grade 2 student Laurie Sager with teacher, Miss Price, Westminster School, Cote Saint-Luc, 1970.

This morning, upon my arrival at the school, we finally reconnected. It was an emotional experience as I was a student of hers at the beginning of her career and after 45 long years she’s still going strong. Back then I was 7 years old and an awkward, scrawny shrimp of a kid, who she was kind enough to remember over the years and countless students. It was great seeing her again. I happened to be standing on a bench in the last row, next to her in the class picture so I thought I would take another just to show what 45 years looks like.

Sargent Lawrence Sager with teacher Miss Price, 45 years later in Toronto

Sargent Lawrence Sager with teacher Miss Price, 45 years later in Toronto

What a fabulous story and chance encounter that ties in so well with the recent launch of the CSL Historical Society where we seek to share memories and photos of earlier days in our city.

Former EMO member (and another old friend of mine and Laurie’s), Patti-Beth Leitman, had this to say: “WOW!!! What a GREAT story and you BOTH look fabulous!! Both ageing very well!!”

Another fellow CSL EMO volunteer from way back, Mitchell Sinclair, said, “She was my teacher as well in grade two, one year after you. Small world.”

Thanks for sharing this story Laurie. I’m proud of your accomplishments and to call you my friend for so many years.

Now, how many others remember Ms. Price from Westminster School in the 70s? Or Laurie? Please do share your memories.

Why Mitchell Brownstein is running for mayor?

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On a recent evening at the home of Mitchell Brownstein, until recently the Cote Saint-Luc City Councillor for District 7, he gathered many of his volunteers for his bid for the mayor’s office in the upcoming election. In this video recorded, that night, Mitchell describes his background, circumstances and people who brought him to the point of seeking the highest office in our city.

My friendship and aspiration for our community goes back well over 25 years with Mitchell. Having worked on my first political campaign Mitchell took interest in local politics and I convinced him to seek office himself. We have served together ever since and supported each others visions and goals and shared in many common achievements. Significant within our many accomplishments together is our involvement in ensuring Canadian Unity and successfully demerging from the undemocratically forced Montreal megacity.

Mitchell Brownstein, Anthony Housefather, Ruth Kovac and Glenn J. Nashen tally up results in leading the city to victory in the demerger battle

Mitchell Brownstein, Anthony Housefather, Ruth Kovac and Glenn J. Nashen tally up results in leading the city to victory in the demerger battle

Mitchell is very much a leader with a positive and progressive vision for Cote Saint-Luc. Having seen what he can do over the years as a city councillor I have no doubt in his abilities to take our city to even higher heights in terms of outstanding services to residents at reasonable cost. He has a vision for strong, sound business practice and firm fiscal management. His legal background will guide him in managing the local administration and workforce while his impressive interpersonal skills and sense of social justice will ensure that our city remains one of the best places to live, to raise a family and to remain in once the children have grown and moved on.

Please watch the video and post your reasons for supporting Mitchell Brownstein for mayor here on my blog and on Facebook.

Brownstein for Mayor 2016

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