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Montreal tenant holds out while developer eyes demolition

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The City of Montreal has granted a demolition permit to a developer that wants to tear down and build a new residential tower, but the existing building still has someone living in it who refuses to leave.

The largely abandoned building sits at the corner of Sainte-Catherine East and Saint-Hubert, right in front of Place Emilie-Gamelin.

Carla White has called her small studio apartment home for more than 10 years.

"When I found this place, I mean it's a Godsend. I swear it's a Godsend. I remember standing there, I said I could make this work," White said.

She's the only tenant left in the building; all her neighbours are gone. They reached deals with developer Mondev, who plans to demolish the building.

Mondev wants to build a new tower with more than 170 units.

"We have a great replacement project," said Michael Owen, a senior partner at Mondev. "The first phase will be 176 apartments. The neighbourhood is badly in need of redevelopment."

White has held out. She negotiated with Mondev but rejected their offers.

"First it was $7,500, then it went to $12,000, then it went to $20,000," White said.

The developer also offered White an apartment at her current rent of $400 a month. She turned it down because she said it didn't look safe.

Mondev said White's demands were completely unreasonable.

"At one time, it was enormous sums of money in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars," Owen said. "At other times, it was an apartment, a penthouse apartment with a specific western view and a large terrace."

Both White and her lawyer, Manuel Johnson, dispute these claims. Johnson says $20,000 doesn't go far these days, saying it "might give her stability for a few months, maybe a year," but then will be back to square one.

"She risks finding herself homeless on the street."

The City of Montreal granted Mondev a demolition permit.

"Mondev demonstrated that several relocation options were offered to the tenant and consequently the permit was issued," a spokesperson for the mayor said.

"The city understands clearly that we have attempted in good faith, attempted to solve the problem that Ms. White faces," Owen said.

White was served with an eviction notice and must vacate her apartment by June 30.

"She's going to be out on the street on July 1 with $1,200 in the pocket. That's going to be enough for her maybe to put some of her stuff in storage while she stays in a homeless shelter," Johnson said.

Johnson says they will try to cancel the permit.

Mondev says it wants to begin demolition by September.  

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