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Urban Infill: 130 St Philippe

Urban infill

In the urban planning and development industries, infill is the use of land within a built-up area for further construction, especially as part of a community redevelopment or growth management program or as part of smart growth. It focuses on the reuse and repositioning of obsolete or underutilized buildings and sites. This type of development is essential to renewing blighted neighborhoods and knitting them back together with more prosperous communities.[2] Wiki

The city is an every changing, ever evolving thing. Businesses and buildings come and go as needs and uses evolve. The St Henri neighbourhood in Montreal QC has been on a gradual progression to more a more genteel state and as part of this a number of lots in the area are being redeveloped, when I first moved to town 130 St Philippe was a friendly automotive garage that helped boost my car one winter when the battery died. However as time in this neighbourhood rolls on and property values increase the real estate that the garage was sitting on became a little more valuable then its use as a secondary parking lot for cars waiting to be fixed.  130 St Philippe is actually the back half of a larger project that started over on Rue St Marguerite, but I didn’t manage to catch any construction photos for that half of the site.

Infill can be a tricky proposition as in many ways it is simply the less maligned form of gentrification, people often ignore it in the debate as it is usually the creation of something new versus the property inflation of something that was already there, but the effects are usually the same.  Personally I take the long view on gentrification and the life cycle of cities.  Most neighbourhoods that are poor were at one time wealthy and a lot of neighbourhoods that are wealthy will become poor at some point in their lifespan, and eventually cycle back to wealthy, (I am looking at you Harlem.) The city is not a static entity and must be allowed to adjust itself. I just wish that more cities had effective and well funded property development arms so as to take advantage of infill sites in neighbourhoods when they are on the low swing to provide affordable housing. This particular street is a great example of how the Société dhabitation et de développement de Montréal took advantage of the downswing in Saint Henri, (When I first moved here most reactions were that I had moved into the hood) as there are already two low income apartment buildings and two affordable housing multi unit properties on this block. These will help insure that with the pendulum swinging back up, i.e. gentrification, that is  happening in St Henri now, there will still be a mix of income levels as the bourgeoisie move in.

This project was put together by Groupe Vistacorp,  Vistacorp is a property developer here in Montreal that specializes in residential properties and based on their website and project break down appears to develop two to three sites at a time. While the website doesn’t specifically state it, the company appears to specialize in infill and has a construction roll out that is reactive and flexible to the economic climate based on the number of units that they put on the market in a given year.

I was only able to get my hands on a couple of the unit plans by casting about in darkness of the Internet (think randomly adjusting page IDs) as the majority of the condo’s have already been sold. S Whatever your perspective on Infill stay tuned for future additions to the Saint Henri Infill Series as Vistacorp has already started the prep-work for the lot across the street.