The City of Montreal is holding a public consultation on a project that would transform an iconic Mile End industrial building into a hotel and commercial space.

The Van Horne Avenue landmark, most recognized by its oblong shape and rooftop water tower, is wedged between a railroad and the Saint-Laurent viaduct.

The proposed project would convert the structure into a multi-use complex containing a hotel, restaurants, offices and a public rooftop terrace. In addition to revamping the existing building, an extension would be added on the adjoining property.

Van Horne warehouse plans

In an online consultation open until Feb. 12, 2023, the city is asking participants to rate their feelings about various factors, such as the building's proposed uses and different aesthetic elements.

While some Montrealers are optimistic about the project, saying it would attract tourists to the area and reenergize businesses, others aren't on board.

Some have called on the city to convert the space into affordable housing, arguing the current plan would accelerate gentrification in the area.

On Saturday afternoon, about a third of the city's online "suggestion box" for the project was filled with calls for more housing.

"Considering the horrendous housing crisis in Montreal, this space should clearly be used for social housing. Anything else would be shameful," one comment reads.

Van Horne warehouse project

But Montreal appears to have closed the door on turning the landmark into apartments of any kind. 

Following the Lac Mégantic rail disaster in 2013, "the construction of housing is no longer permitted right near the main railroad tracks," the city's website states.

Additionally, the area's urban development plan specifies buildings north of Van Horne be used for commercial purposes.

Other requests in the suggestion box include a community center, a shared artists' space and an entertainment venue.