Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Griffintown Project: Including Larger Apartments for Families--and Boomers--in the Mix

More hearings on the Griffintown redevelopment project last night: it seems so many people want to speak that two more evenings of public hearings are planned.

Among the new things brought up are the lack of feasibilities for families—no provision for a school, few green spaces, not many apartments that would be large enough for the archetypal family of four, let alone a larger family.

The points remind me of the discussion that went on during the redevelopment of Vancouver’s Expo 86 lands. There the private developer was required to provide a certain number of subsidized housing units and two and three bedroom units. The result has been an astounding growth in the number of families in the area, with the result that the Elsie Roy elementary school was opened in 2005, the first in 30 years in the centre city. It was enough for The New York Times to pay attention: "Spurring Urban Growth in Vancouver, One Family at a Time "

Mixing ages in a neighborhood is as healthy as mixing uses. What should also be remembered that three bedroom apartments are very attractive to couples of a certain age who are looking to sell a larger house. Right now most new quality condos have only two bedrooms, although they might have two or even two and a half luxurious baths. But active and well-off retirees may want a bedroom for the grandkids when they come to visit, plus two other rooms that can be master bedroom and home office. Or—and this is the great secret of older couples—his and her bedrooms. The fires may still burn, but if one of the lovers snores, afterwards they may want to spend the night in separate rooms. No developers seem to realize this, although with Boomers aging, the market is bound to grow.


AJ said...

Thanks for covering this story, Mary!

The developer has noted that they are aiming at least some of the commercial condo towers (above the shopping centre) at Boomer empty-nesters; one tower will be a seniors residence for assisted living and another for students. (Hmm, i dunno if that'll make for a real neighborhood mix of they're separated like that, but who knows.

In any case, we think towers are anathema to Montreal life; we'd prefer much lower-height, denser residential construction. There are some incredible projects in Sweden right now, like Hammarby Sjostadt, and the Malmo BO-01 project that look like perfect models for what could be built here.

AJ (of savegriffintown.wordpress.com and of csrgriffintown.wordpress.com)

Mary Soderstrom said...

One tower for seniors who need assisted living is not what I'm talking about: three bedroom apartments for people 55 to 70 or older who are relatively well-heeled is not at all the same thing.

And even though highrise towers have been made to work some places (Singapore, for example) Montreal is not that kind of city, I agree.

Question, though: I've heard it said that Mile End has the highest density of any neighborhood in Canada. Is that true? If so, do you know where the calculation comes from?



AJ said...

Oh, I'm not sure my previous comment was clear. In the original Devimco presentation at the ETS (not part of the public consultations, but there were breakout sessions), Serge Goulet said there'd be three target markets initially -- well-to-do empty-nesters selling up from the suburbs and moving back downtown, or purchasing it as a 'pied a terre' in the city, and then seniors and students - and the rest, I guess, to the usual mix of condo buyers when the time comes.

It does have the highest density in Canada, though it's a bit hard to find the statistics, we'd have to look it up by zip code (FSA - Forward Sortation Area). According to Statistics Canada the city of Montreal proper (excluding agglomerated suburbs) has a density of 5,590.8 people per square kilometer. Even though Toronto is much bigger, it's much less dense, with just 3,939.4 people per sq. km: Calgary, by contrast, has 1,252, and Edmonton just 974!

What I find astonishing is that it definitely doesn't feel more dense than Toronto...then again our building typology defaults to townhouse / duplex / row housing, whereas theirs is more separate bungalows.

Anonymous said...

The Plateau district has by far the highest neighborhood density in Mtl, and is the most dense neighborhood in Canada with over 13000 residents/km2.

Mary Soderstrom said...

That "densest neighborhood" figure is somehing I've heard before, but I haven't been able to track down the source. Do you know where it comes from?