By Craig Patterson
The innovative Royalmount mixed-used development in the Town of Mount Royal in Montreal broke ground this week, with an anticipated completion date of August 2022. The world-class lifestyle and shopping hub will feature a mix of first-to-market retailers, mass market stores, luxury brand stores, fitness, food and beverage, entertainment options, hotels, office buildings, and now a substantial residential component is also in the planning stages. Royalmount is being positioned as Montreal’s new ‘Midtown’ with a goal of becoming a gathering place for the region.
Developers of the project, Carbonleo and L Catterton Real Estate, have been clearing and preparing the site for months at the southwest corner of Décarie Expressway and Highway 40. Remarkably, 88% of materials from the demolitions, including concrete, wood, glass, steel, copper and aluminum, have been recuperated on site and are being recycled.
Developer Carbonleo has moved its head office onto the site as development is now in the construction phase. An on-site office building also houses third party professionals, engineers, architects and contractors who are working on the massive project. A 6,000 square foot showroom showcasing the project, also on site, is open for meetings and special events.
Royalmount is transforming a former industrial district into a cultural and commercial hub of mixed-used development in about 3.6 million square feet of retail, hotel, hospitality and office space. The developers control over 74 acres of land at the site and the project will create about 35,000 jobs during its construction, and 15,000 new jobs when in operation. The retail component will consist of about 1.4-million square feet of leasable space in an enclosed mall environment.
The privately-funded Royalmount project will become a state-of-the-art lifestyle hub for the region as well as an ever-increasing number of visitors to the area. The project is being designed by Benoy, which has been involved in some significant international projects.
Located in the centre of the Island of Montreal, Royalmount is strategically proximate to some of the region’s wealthiest neighbourhoods. Affluent areas such as the town of Mount Royal, Hampstead and Westmount surround the site. The population density and spending power in the area has retailers interested in Royalmount, according to the developers.
Royalmount will be connected to the Montreal Metro rapid transit system at de la Savane station. About 1.2-million people take the metro in the Montreal area daily, and no other super-regional malls in the area are connected to a Metro station. The location is also accessible by roadway -- about 360,000 cars pass through the adjacent interchange daily, making it one of the busiest on the continent
Michael Stroll, Carbonleo’s Senior Director, Retail Leasing said, “We have signed deals in place with both anchor and CRU tenants in categories ranging from fashion to food & beverage, to entertainment to wellness. Retailers understand and endorse our vision, recognize the market opportunity, and are building flagship format stores at Royalmount. We have attracted many unique and foreign global brands and anticipate that 30% of the GLA will house first-to-market retailers that currently do not have a presence in the city. Montreal will get the world-class shopping destination that it deserves.”
Royalmount will feature a ‘luxury wing’ housing some of the world’s biggest brands. Negotiations are ongoing for recognizable names, some that have already committed to opening in the project. Montreal currently lacks the expansive luxury retail offerings seen in cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. Royalmount is aiming to become the standalone luxury node for the greater Montreal region.
In keeping with trends being seen in leading shopping centres globally, Royalmount will also feature a roster of full-sized restaurants. In total, over 100 food and beverage options will be part of the project, including an elevated food court, a food hall, sit-down restaurants, cafes and bars.
Between five and seven hotels are planned for the site. Combined, they could offer as many as 1,500 hotel rooms.
Two existing office buildings will be kept on-site with over 240,000 square feet of space. An additional 250,000 square feet of office space is planned, and the development could eventually see as much as 1.5-million square feet of office space, depending on demand.
The developers are also involved in the approval process to add as many as 6,000 residential units to the Royalmount site. That could result in about 15,000 people living at Royalmount and with its connection to the city’s rapid transit network, commuters could head to downtown Montreal without having to leave the indoors. Carbonleo says that it will launch consulting-ideation initiatives as the project’s residential design progresses. The Montreal region is the sixth fastest-growing metropolitan region in North America and given development on the island of Montreal, Royalmount’s housing will meet a need.
Phase One of the project, which currently does not include residential, will go forward without any delay and is otherwise unaffected by the residential rezoning process, according to Carbonleo.
In June of 2018, it was announced that L Catterton group, the private equity firm linked with French luxury conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) and Groupe Arnault, had partnered with Carbonleo on the project. Royalmount is L Catterton’s third North American development project, following its investment in Miami’s luxury retail complex, Miami Design District as well as a significant investment in The Amazing Brentwood centre in suburban Vancouver. L Catterton is also involved in a number of luxury projects in Asia, including the magnificent Ginza SIX luxury retail complex in central Tokyo. L Catterton is noted as being the world’s largest consumer-focused private equity fund, with more than US $15 billion in capital.
Carbonleo is a private Quebec-based property development and management company with a track record of developing successful next generation mixed-use developments. The company employs about 70 people and was founded in 2012. It has developed projects including Quartier DIX30, Royalmount, as well as the recently opened Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences in downtown Montreal that are connected to the soon-to-be-completed Holt Renfrew Ogilvy luxury retail complex.
According to Retail Council of Canada’s most recent Canadian Shopping Centre Study, top centres are becoming community gathering places and landlords are taking notice. Rather than operating traditional fashion malls surrounded by expansive parking facilities, new urban mall developments feature site intensification as well as mixed uses. Landlords are adding an expanded assortment of food-and-beverage options in order to attract consumers while also increasing on-site dwell-time. Entertainment centres are being added to properties to create an extra attraction in an effort to draw in visitors. A substantial on-site residential population will create further human connection, as well as a sense of community and an overall ecosystem health, according to Carbonleo.
Royalmount’s developers appear to have identified all of these trends and are moving forward with what is expected to be a world-class mixed-use development that will become an example of best-practices globally. We’ll continue to report on the project as construction progresses and new tenants are announced.
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd. Email Craig: firstname.lastname@example.org