A dilapidated building purchased by the City of Montreal is causing concern downtown: it has burned down five times in the past five years.

A skyscraper of nearly 600 condos a stone’s throw away fears another fire could spread and is calling on City Hall to take responsibility.

1300-1330, rue Saint-Antoine Ouest was acquired by the City of Montreal in 2017 for social housing. Since then, his condition has deteriorated rapidly, while the transformation project is gathering dust.

In the meantime, the building gives work to the firefighters. A lot of work. “The City of Montreal’s Fire Department responded […] to five major fires at 1300-1330 Saint-Antoine Street, on March 23, 2018, July 28, 2019, June 10, 2021, June 13, 2021, as well as June 28, 2022,” publicist Kim Nantais said by email.

Our request for an interview with the fire department was refused.

“After the June 2022 fire, the City carried out security, protection and clean-up work there after the fire, which ended on February 7, 2023,” explained Ms. Nantais, still by email. “The City of Montreal aims [to] sell the buildings to an NPO for the development of social and affordable housing by 2024. […] Since the acquisition, steps have been taken with community partners, but the chronic under-funding of new projects in AccèsLogis has not made it possible to materialize a project. »

1300-1330 rue Saint-Antoine Ouest, at the corner of rue de la Montagne, is located in a strategic location: the Bell Center is its diagonal neighbor and two metro stations are less than five minutes away. market.

Another direct neighbour: the Tour des Canadiens 3, a 53-storey, 168-meter giant erected a few dozen meters away, just across the rue de la Montagne.

“It’s still concerning. We are directly opposite,” said Renaud Bourassa, tower manager, in an interview with La Presse. “[A fire in front], for sure it can affect us. “Just last year, a fire started in June and created a lot of smoke around,” he added, describing the problems caused to the skyscraper’s ventilation system.

Tour des Canadiens 3 has 576 condos.

“There will have to be actions taken, because it cannot stay in this condition forever, continued Mr. Bourassa. In the landscape, it clashes. »

The official opposition at City Hall is also worried about the neighbors of the abandoned building.

“The building belongs to the City and there is a responsibility incumbent upon it. The City of Montreal should lead by example,” said Abdelhaq Sari, spokesperson for public security. “We call on him to take responsibility, especially since these fires are repetitive. Five fires in five years, we agree that it is still huge. […] I find no element that can explain this negligence. »

The City of Montreal had purchased 1300-1330 Saint-Antoine Street West for $5.5 million from the promoters of Tour des Canadiens 3, as part of the deal that allowed them to build their skyscraper.

“Current potential allows for the construction of approximately 150 housing units, City officials noted in 2017. Building demolition costs are estimated at $156,000, while those for soil decontamination and removal of contaminated materials in buildings are estimated at $777,500. »