Design competition planned for Blue Bonnets housing development
Published Monday, October 29, 2012 2:33PM EDT
The city of Montreal says it will hold a major design competition for the community development project planned for the former Blue Bonnets racetrack.
When the city first announced the plan earlier this year to transform Blue Bonnets into an 8,000-unit housing development, it said it hoped the first people would be moving into the site in 2017, and officials say they are sticking to that timeline.
The city hopes that eventually 20,000 people will live in the area, which is bounded by Jean-Talon and Decarie Blvds, and train tracks.
But the design will have to include room for housing, a police station, commercial lots and lots of green space.
Michael Applebaum, chair of the city's Executive Committee, said that between now and 2016 the city will hold a year-long design competition, and hold public consultations on the plans for the site.
The city also stands to make quite a bit of money off selling the land, which was ceded to Montreal by the provincial government, and from the corresponding taxes on the sales.
"We will start to sell off pieces of land by 2017, ensuring that we have green spaces, community centres, social and affordable housing. But at the same time every development project will have to respect our policies and our politics," said Applebaum.
The land has been valued at $100 million, and Applebaum expects that by selling it off piecemeal the city will make more money.
Opposition councillors, including Projet Montreal's Peter McQueen, so far approve of the strategy although he does have some alterations he would like to see.
"We're looking for more social housing, we're looking for a green development. We want them to get started sooner rather than later," said McQueen.
Architect Robert Libman said simply having so much space near two metro stations, in an already heavily-trafficked area, can be daunting.
"The biggest challenge is to find a transit-oriented design for this neighbourhood whereas public transit is the major means of access for the development. Otherwise you're just going to have gridlock along Decarie," said Libman.
Blue Bonnets horse racing began 137 years ago, but only moved to its Decarie Blvd.-adjacent location in 1907. It shut down in 2009 and demolition began Oct. 1, 2012.