A section of Sainte-Catherine Street is closed for at least a week due to the risk of a historic building collapsing.
Vehicles can no longer travel on the section of the commercial artery located between Robert-Bourassa Boulevard and McGill College Avenue, in the heart of downtown.
It is the risk of collapse of the Jaeger building (located at 682, rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest) which leads to this closure, confirmed the manager of the building and the City of Montreal. The two neighboring buildings — including the Super Sex Club — burned down in a massive fire in 2021.
The side facade of the Jaeger Building, uncovered for the first time in decades, now threatens to collapse. The building had also been damaged by the fire, but was still standing.
“The building has structural issues which we identified with our structural advisors earlier this week. We have taken certain steps to protect the public domain and to protect the public as well,” said André Jude, who manages the building, in a telephone interview.
“We expanded the safe zone today with the City. There are other wards that are going to be put up tonight,” he continued.
In the early evening, the City of Montreal indicated that the closure would last at least “a week”. “To facilitate access to businesses, the sidewalk on the north side remains accessible,” said municipal publicist Gonzalo Nunez, by email. The borough has commissioned an independent report to determine the rapid actions that will need to be put in place to ensure the reopening of Sainte-Catherine and public safety. »
Mr. Nunez added that it was the officials of the borough of Ville-Marie (who follow the state of this building “closely”) “who asked the owner to provide an engineers’ report”.
Through the voice of their spokesperson, downtown merchants expressed their anger at this situation. “We are sorry for the situation which is very worrying. It is hoped that both the owners and the City will be able to secure the premises as quickly as possible to reopen the artery,” said Glenn Castanheira, of Montreal Centre-Ville. “Spending […] a week with a blocked Sainte-Catherine Street is unacceptable. On social media, he added that the building in question was “neglected.”
According to Héritage Montréal, the Jaeger building has a “magnificent neo-Gothic facade in vitrified terra-cotta from 1914 that is little known and poorly maintained”. “The building has been vacant for a few years. It is obviously in lack of maintenance. In March 2023, masonry elements come off the building,” the group adds on its platform.
André Jude says the building was in “acceptable” condition until the arson attack. “The building dates from the 19th century, with modifications made by previous owners in the early 20th century,” he said.
682 Sainte-Catherine Street West belongs to a numbered company owned by billionaire Ben Ashkenazy, a New York real estate magnate.
“With a portfolio of over 100 buildings valued together at $12 billion, Ashkenazy Acquisition has a superior track record of buying and managing premium assets,” its website states. The company notably owns the Montreal Forum, with local investors.