Meadowbrook developer suing city for $46 million

Leave a comment

Montreal Gazette, Mar. 24, 2017

In its $46-million lawsuit against the city of Montreal, real-estate developer Groupe Pacific charged Thursday that the city used high infrastructure costs as an excuse to block construction of its 1,600-unit project and save the Meadowbrook golf course as green space.The city engaged in “disguised expropriation” to preserve the Lachine portion of the golf course, lawyer Martin Bernard said. Groupe Pacific is requesting damages to cover the profits it would have earned had the project been approved.

Taking the stand in Quebec Superior Court near the end of the two-week trial, Bernard began his closing arguments in the two-week trial in Quebec Superior Court by outlining his client’s interactions with city and Lachine borough officials in 2007-2010.

Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific, a subsidiary of Groupe Pacific, purchased the land in 2006 for $3 million.

In 2010, as protests by concerned citizens and environmental group Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook escalated, executive committee member Alan DeSousa announced the city would not support the project because the cost of installing infrastructure, like additional access roads, sewage and water systems, were excessive.

In 2013, the company discovered that the city’s estimates for putting in services like water, sewage pipes and a railway overpass to ensure access for emergency services ranged from $60 million to $150 million.

“The city of Montreal behaved in a manner that exhibited bad faith and acted contrary to the principles of balanced procedures,” Bernard argued. “It failed to work with care and diligence, to follow its own regulations, or to work transparently.”

The city’s demand that access lanes be created to the south of the project, necessitating an overpass over train lines costing as much as $125 million, were exorbitant, Groupe Pacific argued. As well, the city has since indicated its support for converting the space into a public green space, Bernard said.

In its defence, the city’s lawyers argued that Groupe Pacific purchased a piece of land bordered on three sides by train lines, with only one narrow access route cutting through the de-merged municipality of Côte-St-Luc. Installing 1,600 residences would involve extensive sewage and water-main installations, and because the city cannot force a neighbouring municipality to install additional roads, the only option was to install a costly overpass on land to the south belonging to the city. Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook has argued that all residences within the development would be within 300 metres of the Canadian Pacific switching station located alongside, in contravention of federal guidelines.

It would take the city 50 years to recoup its infrastructure investments, far longer than the maximum 10 years its financial services department considers acceptable, city lawyer Eric Couture said.

“The city of Montreal refuses for now to invest the necessary sums in this project that is not profitable for public finances,” the city wrote in its defence statement. “Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific can continue to manage the golf course which is permitted under the current zoning. … Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific is thus not the victim of a disguised expropriation.”

It added that if Groupe Pacific deemed the city was negotiating in bad faith, it could have contested that point in Superior Court, as opposed to requesting damages.

Groupe Pacific’s demand of $46 million is “clearly exaggerated,” the city said in its defence statement. City lawyers will conclude their closing arguments Friday.

rbruemmer@postmedia.com

twitter.com/renebruemmer

Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Synagogue proposed for Mackle Road next to Cavendish Mall, public info meeting April 3

Leave a comment

At last night’s Public Council Meeting the City of Cote Saint-Luc dealt with a request from the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim who wish to construct a synagogue on Mackle Road, backing onto the Cavendish Mall parking lot.

In recent years, the new homes on Kellert, and the four lots on Mackle between Kellert and the Mall parking entrance were added to District 6, which I represent. This property is the eastern-most point in the district.

The notice of motion was read aloud and City Council adopted the first draft bylaw to begin the zoning amendment process required to render the residential land for institutional use.

In fact, the property is currently composed of two lots that are currently zoned for a semi‐detached dwelling. The amendment would change the zoning from residential to institutional use.

The Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim is a religious institution that currently occupies, and conducts its affairs at 5750 Parkhaven Avenue. They are seeking to re-establish itself in a new premises to be built on a lot at 6790-6792 Mackle Road.

Rabbi Yehuda Benoliel is the spiritual leader of the congregation.

The City, having officially adopted the notice of motion and first reading of the bylaw, has started the legal steps for the request for rezoning.

The residents within the adjacent zones (neighbouring streets) are the ultimate decision makers. The law requires that eligible residents can demand a register to be opened for any neighbour that chooses to contest the rezoning.

The next step is a provincially-mandated public information meeting on April 3, 2017 at 7:30 P.M. as required by law. Interested residents should attend this meeting at City Hall to learn about the project, ask questions and get answers in order to decide for themselves if they agree with the rezoning.

A public notice is then given around mid to end of April for those residents who ultimately wish to sign a register to force a referendum on the issue.

Meanwhile, a sign will be placed by the City in front of the property so that all residents may be adequately informed about the proposed changes. More information about the rezoning is available by calling the Cote Saint-Luc Urban Development Department at 514-485-6800.

“Cavendish link is not just talk anymore”: Brownstein

Leave a comment

Numerous meetings have been held in recent weeks regarding the long-awaited Cavendish Blvd. link between Côte St. Luc and St. Laurent, Côte St. Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein told council regular Bernard Tonchin.

Tonchin and fellow council regular Irving Itman regularly ask for updates on the link.

Brownstein responded at the February council meeting that separate talks were held with St. Laurent Mayor Alan DeSousa, Quebec Transport Minister Laurent Lessard, representatives of Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways, all area mayors and MNAs, and Montreal Executive Committee Chairman Pierre Desrochers.

“Everyone’s on board,” the mayor said. “All the MNAs representing the area, the Transport Minister and all of the mayors. It is moving forward — $222,000 at the last agglomeration council meeting I was at was passed to be spent on a feasibility study for the overpass [that would be part of the link].

“It’s not just talk anymore.”

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

Leave a comment

2017-02-14-free-press-parkhaven-courtyard

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.”

St. Laurent Mayor DeSousa optimistic about Cavendish extension

Leave a comment

By: Councillor Mike Cohen

Cote Saint-Luc City Council welcomed St. Laurent Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa to City Hall recently.

DeSousa

Mayor Brownstein and Council welcome Alan DeSousa.

De Sousa served as Councillor in St. Laurent from 1990 to 2001, following which he was elected borough mayor for four consecutive terms. He also sat as a member of the City of Montreal Executive for 11 years, and served as Vice-Chair. During these years, he was responsible for finance and administration, economic development, long-term planning, hydraulic infrastructures, environment and parks, as well as for sustainable development.

In the private sector, DeSousa  served as Vice-President, Corporate Finance, at BioChem Pharma, a publicly owned Canadian company. He also worked as a corporate tax specialist in international taxation at Ernst & Young. Throughout these years, his social involvement in numerous community and charitable organizations has never ceased.

Our council often invites political colleagues to meet with us. In the case of DeSousa, we spoke about issues such as transportation and of course the extension of Cavendish Boulevard.

“Cavendish is getting to the point of political acceptance,” DeSousa commented. “Right now it seems to be going on the right track. Cavendish is on the rails. We have to keep pushing it.”

DeSousa is confident that Phase One of the long-anticipated extension will occur in 2019-20 with a connection from Royalmount to St. Laurent.

Phase Two would entail the connection from Cote Saint-Luc up to Royalmount.

Later in the same week DeSousa announced his intention to seek the Liberal nomination in the federal riding of St. Laurent- Cartierville, recently vacated by Stéphane Dion.

 

Meadowbrook case expected in court late this year

Leave a comment

 The ongoing legal case involving Meadowbrook Golf Course developer Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific and the City of Côte St. Luc is expected to be back at Quebec Superior Court at the end of this year, says Côte St. Luc Councillor Dida Berku.

“We are now preparing our defence and we’re in the middle of doing examinations, and the case should be inscribed by the end of the year for hearing on the merits,” Berku told The Suburban.

A separate case between the developers and the City of Montreal over the latter’s refusal to allow building on the Lachine side is expected this spring, the councillor added.

Côte St. Luc was originally sued by Meadowbrook’s developer in 2000 when the city changed the zoning of its part of the golf course site from residential to recreational and commercial. Developers have been wanting to place housing on the site, half of which is in Lachine, for more than 25 years.

The original lawsuit lay dormant for years, until Groupe Pacific changed its lawsuit to claim $32 million — $19 million of which was to force the city to basically buy the part of the land in its territory — a land swap: and $13 million for loss of profits, reduced by Quebec Superior Court from $20 million.

As we reported in 2015, “the Quebec Superior Court found that the revised case was a “new recourse” not allowed by the Code of Procedure, and did not allow the company to pursue the $19 million claim. The court also found Groupe Pacific to be the cause of the original lawsuit being in limbo for some 12 years.

Late in 2015, Groupe Pacific wanted to amend its lawsuit once again, to claim another $20 million. The developer wanted the Quebec Court of Appeal to state its opinion on the merits of such a re-amendment to the Quebec Superior Court. But the Court of Appeal ruled that it cannot decide on this in advance and that the Superior Court would have to decide if Groupe Pacific can reamend its claim. This was also Côte St. Luc’s position, Berku said at the time.

Cavendish extension moving forward: Brownstein

Leave a comment

Free Press | Nov. 29, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Free Press | Nov. 29, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Older Entries