St. Denis St. celebrates revival
Published Thursday, June 15, 2017 10:01PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 15, 2017 10:52PM EDT
St. Denis Street threw a party Thursday night to welcome people back to the neighbourhood for the summer.
The street was under construction from 2015 until September and merchants claim they lost a lot of tourist and foot traffic in those months, with many stores seeing a drop in revenue and some closing altogether.
But now the roadwork is a distant memory, so the Merchants' Association threw a party to get people thinking that St. Denis St. is once again a destination for shopping and eating.
"The people with initiatives like this tonight, it makes people want to participate to that project," said Caroline Tessier of the Association.
Over the past year storeowners spent $4 million doing their own renovations as the street was under construction. The city is reimbursing 30 percent of those costs -- up to $100,000 per storefront.
"We have like 300 people, merchants, on the street and they are here, they are alive," said Tessier.
While 16 percent of the shops on the street are vacant, large yellow triangles on the sidewalk indicate stores that are open. Tessier is confident the number of stores, restaurants, and cafés will grow.
"We have to be confident," she said, pointing out that storeowners know they face competition. "There is the internet, there is competition by malls and everything."
Plateau Mont Royal Borough Mayor Luc Ferrandez is also confident that Montrealers will once again flock to St. Denis.
"There's not so many streets like this in North America: a place where you have heritage houses... it's in the middle of a vibrant district," said Ferrandez.
He is considering one move to discourage property owners from leaving store fronts vacant: taxing empty commercial properties.
"Chicago did it with a tax for vacant businesses. I think Montreal really should study in this," said Ferrandez, although he admits this is a change in law that would require action from the provincial government .
Regardless, he believes success breeds success, and as more businesses take a chance on St. Denis he believes the street will boom once again.