Hockey fever is getting an early start in Montreal after a four-game winning streak to kick off the season by the Canadiens, a feat not seen since the glory days of 1977.
The excitement extends to the city's real estate sector with the launch of a second Habs-themed condo project right next door to the Bell Centre south of the downtown. The 37-storey Tour des Canadiens 2 is part of a growing North American trend on the part of condo developers to build in tandem with local sports teams and entertainment groups in an effort to stand apart from the crowd and attract sports fans.
The Montreal Canadiens teamed up with Cadillac Fairview Corp., the Toronto-based real estate arm of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, and Montreal's Canderel Group on the two-tower condo development; among the perks the team offers to condo owners are exclusive access to Bell Centre suites, team-store discounts and draws for dressing room tours and autographed jerseys.
Under a marketing deal, the Habs' storied red-white-and-blue logo will glow from the top of the two condos. The Canadiens organization will also own a sports bar in the first of the two towers.
Club owner and chief executive officer Geoff Molson won't disclose the financial details of the partnership but says: "We're a minority partner in a big project. We're bringing the power of our brand to this project."
The two condos – the first tower's 500 units have sold out and delivery is slated to begin next year – are part of a much bigger $2-billion, 15-year mixed-used development project headed up by Cadillac Fairview.
A 26-storey office building – the Deloitte Tower – has been completed and other elements of the sprawling project, named Quad Windsor for the historic Windsor Station next door to the Bell Centre, include residential buildings and retail space.
"Montreal, Toronto and other major cities have been leaning to this tendency for mixed use, entertainment and offices. It's a cliché to say 'live, work and play' in the same place but there is growing demand for this," said Brian Salpeter, Cadillac Fairview's senior vice-president of development for Eastern Canada.
Other cities with similar projects include Edmonton, Winnipeg, Los Angeles and Detroit.
Aspects of Quad Windsor are modelled on Toronto's mixed-use Maple Leaf Square around the Air Canada Centre, home of the National Hockey League's Leafs and the National Basketball Association's Raptors.
"We learned a lot from the Toronto experience," Mr. Molson said.
Prices at Tour des Canadiens 2 range from about $200,000 for a studio unit to $1-million plus for a penthouse spread, Mr. Salpeter said.
Asked about the less-than-alluring notion of crowd noise and traffic on game and concert nights at the Bell Centre, Mr. Molson replied: "It's a lifestyle choice."
The unveiling of the second condo tower's sales office on Wednesday coincided with a separate announcement that the Montreal Canadiens, Bell Centre and concert promoter Evenko plan to invest close to $100-million over three years in a major interior and exterior renovation of the Bell Centre.
Plans include a new sports eatery, a glassed-in entry hall to the amphitheatre and the transformation of the main street in front of the building into a pedestrian way.
Cadillac Fairview's Mr. Salpeter said he's not bothered by concerns raised in some quarters that too many condo projects are under way in the city.
"We haven't seen [an overbuild]," he said. The city is actually playing "catch up" after a long period of meagre supply, he said. "Montreal is a very stable market. It has steady growth. We like it for the long term."