Old metro cars to be transformed into cultural centre in Griffintown
There are plans for an arts and culture hub in Griffintown, built using old decommissioned metro cars.
"It's going to be a multi-functional space with very different experiences," said Frederic Morin-Bordeleau, who, along with his brother Etienne bought the metro cars in 2018.
Eight of the original MR-63 metro cars will be stacked and arranged to create a space that the brothers hope will inspire new interest in Montreal art and gastronomy.
"Our goal is for people to kind of lose themselves in local culture and discover new things, and just like the metro used to transport us from point A to point B," he said.
The MR-63s went into service in 1966. They were the very first cars used in Montreal's brand-new metro system.
By 2018, they were coming to the end of their life and were slowly replaced by the new Azur trains, currently in use.
At the time, the city put out a call for interesting projects to give the old cars a second life.
That's when the Morin-Bordeleau brothers' dream of creating a cultural centre was born.
"This building is, first of all, a nod, a sculpture to Montreal, to what it is and what it's going to become, said Etienne Morin-Bordeleau, who led the design process.
On the ground floor, the old metro cars will house bars and restaurants, serving 100 per cent local food and drinks. The top two floors will provide space for Quebec talent to present and sell their art.
"It's like a retro-futuristic building to showcase local talent," he said.
And it's been a long time coming. CTV News first caught up with the brothers back in 2018, when they had just bought their metro cars and were starting the design process.
Five years later, they've raised over 20 million dollars and are preparing to break ground early next year.
"We've been working really hard with the City of Montreal and all the elected officials, and this is happening now in spring 2024," said Frederic.
The city has granted the brothers the empty lot at the corner of Peel and Ottawa streets. They'll be allowed to build there free of charge.
"The people that are behind this project have been working for years with a ton of determination to allow artists to get together, to work together, and to create a hub that I think will benefit the artistic community of the greater southwest and of Montreal," said Craig Sauve, city councillor for Griffintown.
The project planners hope to draw on the city's heritage to inspire and propel the culture into the future.