Montreal's answer to Rockefeller Center is set to take shape.

Ground was broken Monday on an outdoor skating rink in the heart of Quartier des Spectacles.

Esplanade Clark, which will be found west of Clark St., between Ste. Catherine St. and De Maisonneuve Blvd., is being transformed into a 5,000 metre-square public space that will service as a public skating rink from November to April and an urban terrace in the warmer months.

“Montreal is a Nordic city and we need to… make sure we have the ice rink but at the same time have you noticed from Place des Festivals, Quartiers des Spectacles, we are creating a milieu de vie,” said Coderre, who added that it will create many jobs.

The plan to develop the area was initially debated nine years ago and chiefly concerned building an underground parking lot.

By 2013 the budget had grown to $32 million, and in 2014, with the city setling on a skating rink, Mayor Denis Coderre said the project would be finished by the end of 2017.

Since then the cost has ballooned and the deadline been pushed back several more years, and the plans to develop an underground parking lot were shelved.

The redevelopment comes at a price tag of $67.1 million also involves rebuilding part of Clark St. in the Place des Arts sector, and the construction of an access building to the Place des Festivals mechanical room underground.

The skating rink will be equipped with an urban chalet complete with changing rooms, as well as a restaurant.

The space where the new rink with be built is currently sitting vacant.

photo: Google Street View

Work began Monday by decontaminating the site.

Quartier des Spectacles Director Pierre Fortin said it’s the final phase of the Place des Arts area of Quartier des Spectacles, adding there’s still more work to come in Quartier Latin.

“This place will be different than Place des Festivals for example, which is a place for huge demonstrations and big shows. This place here will be more intimate. The skating rink will be more family oriented. Festivals will be able to use the space as they do throughout Quartier des

Spectacles but the climate and feeling will be different,” he said.

This final phase was initially supposed to happen in 2012 but contract issues and questions about underground parking stalled the project. The project will ultimately not include underground parking.

The project is expected to be completed by fall 2019.

Coderre said it will be Montreal’s own Rockefeller Center.

“I have that competition with (New York City Mayor) Bill de Blasio but it’s going to be wider, bigger and it will probably be part of the solution to beat the Rangers at the next series. I’m on it big time. Sport is also culture, right?”