Montreal's historic Griffintown neighbourhood has been a target for re-development for years, and now it looks as though the area bordering downtown and Old Montreal will finally be getting its facelift.

But the residents of Griffintown are not necessarily thrilled with the news.

The city of Montreal and real estate development giant Devimco announced plans Monday to begin phase one of what they are billing as "District Griffin," a $475 million project the developers say will be the city's first that "integrates residential, commercial, community and business functions at the same time on the same site."

"It's positive for the city and for the sector also – for the Southwest borough and for Griffintown," said Montreal executive committee member Richard Deschamps.

But people like Cederic Pilon, who works at a Murray St. bike shop, worries that his neighbourhood's unique feel will be forever altered once construction on the new project begins in a few months.

"It's a pretty unique area of the city, and it would be a shame if things changed," Pilon told CTV Montreal's Maya Johnson. "It's part of this history, the rich cultural history of Montreal."

This project is a scaled-down version of the $1.3 billion re-development plan for Griffintown that was originally presented by Devimco, one that succumbed to the effects of the recession.

Phase one of "District Griffin" will include 1,375 residential units, including social and family housing, as well as a 150-room hotel, 200,000 square feet of office space and 130,000 square feet of business space.

The project will span four blocks bordered by Wellington St. to the north, Shannon St. to the east, the Lachine Canal to the west and Smith St. to the south. The work will begin a few months from now in the block formed by Wellington St., Young St., Peel St. and Smith St., where a 19-storey residential tower and the hotel will be built.

"The project no longer has the same identity, it's much smaller in scale," said Kevin Robinson of Devimco. "You have an incremental approach where each city block can be developed one at a time to respond to the needs of the community and the marketplace."

While the city and Devimco both insist the residents were consulted, longtime Griffintown denizen Harvey Lev disagrees.

"There have been no consultations, not for their first project and not for the second project," he said. "We've just been told what they want to do, and they seem to have carte blanche."

Devimco is still in discussions with the Southwest borough for a permit to demolish some buildings in the area to make room for the project.

The annual economic revenues for the city once the project is complete are estimated at $6.7 million, while the Southwest borough will be around $1.4 million.

To follow the progress of the work, you can visit