Ground broke Thursday on Phase 3 of the Tour des Canadiens, the latest installment of the luxury condo project across from the Bell Centre in downtown Montreal.

The move comes a few months earlier than planned, because promoters say the demand for downtown condos has hit new heights.

“This is a phenomenon we're seeing across North America. There's a migration into the cities. People who want to work live and play downtown,” said Daniel Peritz, senior vice-president of real estate company Canderel.

That lifestyle doesn't come cheap, though. Prices on the condos range from $360,000 up to just under $2 million – around the same price point as the first two towers.

Those both sold out quickly

“If you look at single-family detached houses in the downtown core are going for astronomical prices, and so the last affordable option is condominiums,” said Canderel’s vice-president of sales, Rizwan Dhanji.

It’s common in hot markets, and right now downtown condos are as hot as ever.

The average condo in Greater Montreal is now worth just under $300,000, up 4 per cent from last year.

Downtown, though, the average condo price is now $450,000, 8 per cent higher than the previous year.

“The demand for housing is really strong because of low inventories, not only on the resale market, but also in the new home market,” explained Genevieve Lapointe, chief market analyst of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Four years ago, there were 250 downtown condos that were unsold; today, there are only 60.

Realtor Amy Assaad says condos don't stay on the market for a long time anymore.

“If it's resale, you can sell within the first week to maybe two months. If it's a new build and it has a great reputation, you have a lineup waiting to buy it,” she said.

Foreign buyers are also on the rise, as 10 per cent of downtown condos sales last year were to international buyers who now see Montreal as a bargain compared to Toronto or Vancouver

“They feel like they're entering a market where there's a lot of future potential,” said Assaad.

It’s a perfect recipe for developers to keep building new projects, though the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation can't say if all these new units will be sold.

“For sure right now the demand is quite strong, employment is pretty strong but anything that could impact employment could also trigger a lower demand,” said Lapointe.

The promoters of Tour des Canadiens said they’ve heard that before.

“There were some experts back in 2013, when we were about to launch Tour des Canadiens, one of 500 units, who told us, ‘Look I don't think the market will be there to absorb that kind of product’ and the market has just continued on,” said Dhanji.

Tower 3 is expected to be completed by 2022.