City Halts Redpath Demolition

Historic Building Still Standing After Over 25 Years of Decay

Montreal’s urban planning department put the brakes on a plan to level the Redpath mansion and replace it with a seven story condo tower. Photo Erin Sparks

Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay is withdrawing his support for a plan to demolish the city’s historic Redpath Mansion and replace it with a seven-story condo project.

Until recently, Tremblay backed the proposal even though it violated a city-zoning bylaw that restricts any development on the Redpath property to three stories in height.

Approval for the historic mansion’s demolition made it through two readings of Ville Marie’s borough council and was set to be approved yesterday. But on Friday, the mayor had a change of heart after the city’s urban planning department recommended the project be halted.

“There was a concern that the condos would block the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ view of Mont Royal,” said Ville Marie borough councillor Sammy Forcillo. “And that doesn’t just affect the borough, it affects tourism and the 600,000 people who visit the museum every year.”

In 2010, the MMFA invested $40 million in structural renovations to their property, including the construction of a sunroom that looks out onto Mont Royal. When a study found that the Sochaczevskis condo tower would significantly impede the museum’s view, MMFA representatives spoke out against the developers.

“We respected the city’s zoning bylaw when we built [the sunroom],” museum spokesperson Danielle Champagne told The Link on Jan. 31. “Why can’t [the Sochaczevskis]?”

The development has been the object of scrutiny since Avi and Michael Sochaczevski bought the decaying Redpath mansion in 1986. That year, they began tearing down the building, which was one of the few remnants of Queen Anne architecture in Montreal.

An injunction obtained by a citizen group prevented any further demolition from taking place, but the Sochaczevski brothers remained patient. Although this latest setback has sidetracked the condo development, Michael Sochaczevski told The Gazette he would work with the city to make his project fit within the city’s bylaws.

“It’s a great message the city has sent to developers who want to undertake this kind of project in the future,” said Dino Bumbaru, the executive director of Heritage Montreal.

“But the city should enforce measures to have the Redpath Mansion properly preserved. It’s a historical part of Montreal and it’s falling apart.”

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 22, published February 8, 2011.