A building in Griffintown that was meant to house residences now houses a sprawling apartment hotel that costs $150 to $2,000 a night.
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Yesterday, our FBI reported that in the midst of a housing crisis, Quebec would lend $30 million to the multinational Sonder, which specializes in short-term rentals, like Airbnb.
The company, whose head office is in the United States, manages the rental of 389 apartments in Montreal.
However, we found that 47 of these apartments are located in a building, Richmond, which should have housed traditional accommodation.
In 2011, developer Groupe Dayan applied for a zoning change to allow it to convert former industrial buildings in Griffintown into a 300-unit housing development.
Photo by Charles Mathieu
Example 3 1/2 of this building which was asking for more than $200 a night when Le Journal recently rented it.
This complex was to contribute to the “creation of a new living environment”, can we read in the documents given to the elected officials of the South-West region of Montreal.
When applying for a building permit for the first phase of his project, the promoter asked instead for the construction of 84 hotel accommodations.
Of this number, Sonder currently manages 47 apartments and seven others are rented on Airbnb by Dayan Group.
“It’s a business decision,” said company president George Dean, who declined to comment further.
Thus, Sonder was able to take advantage of a zoning change to settle in Richmond, before the Southwest imposed significant restrictions on the possibility of making Airbnb rentals there.
“Certainly years later, with a housing crisis, it becomes frustrating. There we are currently making sure that there are no such cases. We really organized the organization, ”says the mayor of the South-West and head of housing within the Factory service, Benoit Doris. .
Since 2019, short-term rentals are prohibited in the South West except for a short stretch of Notre-Dame Street.
“The use of hotel apartments, in residential areas, remains authorized in 2018. [Sonder] They are now an “acquired right”, explains the City’s communications officer, Anyck Paradis.
Sonder also defended himself “at the time of the issuance of the permit, a tourist residence was authorized in this area”.
In its project of 300 apartments, Dayan Group has also committed to building 15% social housing and 15% affordable housing. Forty-seven of these units will begin this fall.
Hotels without reception
Sonder may operate “hotels” without front desk staff, although current municipal regulations no longer allow it.
According to permits obtained from Tourisme Québec, Sonder currently operates two “tourist residences”, including Richmond, and four “hotels”.
During our visit, we found that three of the four Sonder hotels did not have a front desk clerk on site.
These are the Gare St-Denis projects, opposite the CHUM, Victoria, in Old Montreal, and Lofts Guérin, in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal.
In the last place, by the time Sonder opened his establishment, the city had already tried to stand up to the uninhabited hotels.
However, the regulations were not specific enough to prevent Sonder from providing remote reception-only service.
“A reception had already been set up at the establishment, and since the concept of the service was not really defined, it was difficult to order anything at this level”, explains the communications director of the Plateau Mont- Royal, Michel Tanguy.
This city therefore had to organize itself again to counter projects like those of Sonder.
This is also the case for the Ville-Marie and Sud-Ouest districts, which now require hotels to have an employee on duty 24 hours a day.
Sonder also challenged this settlement.
“There has to be a reception, with someone there. Otherwise, it is not compliant,” confirms the head of habitat within the plant department, Benoit Dorries.
However, Sonder could operate three of its hotels under the old, grandfathered regulations, the company argued.
“For this reason, we cannot speak of non-compliance with our regulations, nor require that an employee be available 24 hours a day”, identifies Michel Tangway.