A proud Montreal native, Stéphane Côté always loved the city’s urban landscape and rich architectural history. After studying at the Université du Québec à Montréal, Côté worked in a variety of fields from sales and marketing to home renovation. But it was in 1998 when he made his passion for design and architecture a reality by launching DevMcGill. The company soon began to change the face of the city by restoring old heritage buildings in key neighbourhoods including Castelnau, the St-Dominique and 100 McGill in Old Montreal.
Today, the developer has expanded its portfolio to include several new construction projects including their latest undertaking, ArtHaus in Ottawa. The mixed-use development is one of the most high profile construction projects currently being undertaken in the nation’s capital, and also marks DevMcGill’s first venture outside of Quebec.
BuzzBuzzHome caught up with Stéphane to hear more about ArtHaus, his experience working in the Ottawa real estate market, as well as future plans for the company.
BuzzBuzzHome: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background? Did you grow up in Montreal?
Stéphane Côté: I grew up on the Island of Montreal and completed a Bachelor of Economics and Marketing at the Université du Québec à Montréal. After graduating, I worked in several fields such as sales, marketing and home renovation before I started the company. I have always been passionate about design and architecture and I love coming up with projects, watching them become reality and alter the urban landscape.
BBH: When did you first get involved in real estate and how did that experience help you to launch Développements McGill in 1998?
SC: I have always enjoyed renovating homes and my work has enabled me to delve even deeper into real estate. I was lucky to have the opportunity to undertake renovation and rental projects and to flip buildings in prime locations. The experience helped me gain expertise and learn more about real estate, in addition to exploring the related spheres of activity.
BBH: Your first two projects — 100 McGill and Caverhill — involved historical restorations. What attracted you to these sites/projects?
SC: What initially attracted me the most to my first two projects was primarily the detailed architecture in historic buildings located in lively neighbourhoods rich in history and architectural beauty. I will always be particularly fond of 100 McGill because it was the first project that DevMcGill developed in Old Montreal. It received several awards and laid the foundation for future projects. The Caverhill, another magnificent building in Old Montreal, and the Outremont Convent, at the base of Mount Royal are also unique signature projects.
BBH: After almost 20 years of development in Montreal, DevMcGill announced the launch of Arthaus in Ottawa earlier this year, marking your first venture outside of Quebec. What made you decide to branch out?
SC: Our team is a solid partnership that was built on experience. Before this project, we had been looking to expand our activities beyond Montreal for quite some time. It was important for us to do things right and find the perfect location.
We are working with experienced partners like EBC, Groupe Germain and local pillars such as the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) in addition to receiving support from the City of Ottawa. We particularly enjoy the artistic, cultural and historical aspects of this project as well as it’s close proximity to Montreal which facilitates quality assurance.
BBH: How does the real estate market in Ottawa differ from Montreal?
SC: The Ottawa market is smaller than Montreal’s making it very appealing. It is also a more classic real estate market that is gradually increasing its skyward development with increased densification. With our experience in this type of development in the Montreal area, the thought of bringing our combined expertise to a brand new market was very exciting. DevMcGill intends to make its mark in Ottawa and offer a quality product so we are very excited about ArtHaus.
BBH: The high profile project is a joint venture between several organizations including DevMcGill, the City of Ottawa, The Ottawa Art Gallery, Group Germain, and the University of Ottawa. How did this partnership come about?
SC: After a call for tenders, we and our partners decided to develop an exceptional project for this unique site. We believe that this mixed-use development consisting of a gallery, hotel, university, and condos will fit seamlessly into the evolving neighbourhood. We have worked with EBC before on the M9-4 Condos, an ambitious 21-storey development at the entry point to Old Montreal, downtown and Griffintown.
BBH: How are these organizations involved in the development of this mixed-use community, and what will it offer new residents?
SC: Our team, including our partners Groupe Germain and EBC, have a strong track record in multipurpose projects that combine, for example, a ground-floor business, first floor office space and upper-floor residences. These are customary project designs for us – we are in familiar territory and believe in the concept of “sleep, work, play”.
Arthaus residents will be able to enjoy nearby services like the Germain hotel or see a featured exhibit at the gallery. Other amenities include a 23rd floor terrace, reception halland gym.
The development is a community where you can do everything without having to step a foot outside, whether you’re grabbing a bite to eat or visiting the art gallery. And just across the street you have the Rideau Centre, the University of Ottawa gardens and the vibrant ByWard Market.
This project also features another unique option: a parking lot that is both private and public, making it more accessible to residents who would prefer not to purchase a parking space with their condo.
BBH: Can you provide more details about the building? Who are the architects and interior designers?
SC: Régis Coté et Associés are the Arthaus architects and U31 of Toronto is in charge of interior design. Our market research, product development, sales and construction teams, as well as the architects and designers, all worked together to design the living spaces.
BBH: How many residential units are available and what kinds of amenities, features and finishes can prospective homebuyers expect?
SC: We currently have 89 residential units. The development also features exclusive common areas for residents, including an elegant lobby, fitness centre, 23rd floor terrace, and an owners’ lounge.
BBH: How affordable are the suites at Arthaus, and when do you expect to launch sales and start construction?
SC: Our diversified offer will accommodate the specific nature of the Ottawa market. Construction is already underway and sales are scheduled to begin in winter 2016. We strongly recommend that interested buyers register at Arthauscondos.com in order to be selected to participate in the VIP process because the 89 units will go quickly.
BBH: Now that you’ve entered the Ontario market, can you tell us about any other projects coming up in the pipeline?
SC: For the time being, we are focusing all of our energy on ArtHaus, our first project off the Island of Montreal. Ofcourse we are always on the lookout for new projects, but we like to do things properly, even with 18 years of experience behind us.
BBH: What’s the long term goal for the company? Do you plan on expanding to other markets in Canada? What about the US?
SC: The U.S. is not on our minds at the moment. It isn’t necessarily a priority but we are not against the idea either. However, we definitely want to concentrate on Ontario and expand development in the Ottawa and Toronto markets.