This morning at 10:00 Societe de Development ANGUS (SDA) held a press conference at the Angus Yards. The press conference comes after 9 public consultation meetings, the tones of which were identifiably in contrast with the development plans for the area.
To recap: Local business owners, artists and citizens alike criticized Angus’s plans to level half a block of historic Montreal buildings in order to erect an office tower dedicated to Hydro Quebec.
Plans for the development include keeping the facades of the existing buildings while replacing and remodeling ground floor lots to house restaurants, bars and boutiques. What has many Montrealers and citizens confused however is the logic behind removing current venues in the area: Café Cleopatre, Saints Show Bar, Club Opera, the Montreal Pool Room, and the Katacombes, and replacing them with an office tower.
Jason McLean was at the press conference for ForgetTheBox and asked the developers just that question, “What is the logic behind replacing existing venues with office space?”
President-directeur general, of SDA, Christian Yaccarini’s convoluted response was “That without financial support, and corporate infrastructure the area wouldn’t be able to survive. Office space, and businesses will bring more people to the area and can co-exist with the arts.” (Translated from French)
The idea that offices will really contribute to the cultural value of the area is far fetched to say the least. When asked why in particular the project could not go forth while accommodating existing Montreal venues, (particularly Café Cleopatre the most outspoken of the venues in jeopardy) Yaccarini said that he “refuses to have a strip club in this development.”
Of Cleopatre he says, “The three activities that take place there are nude dancing, video lottery and to a lesser extent the support of developing artists. The club is operating at about 5% capacity.”
Supporters of Café Cleopatre would be quick to point out that Yaccarini’s statements are misleading at best and libel at worst. The club prides itself on its support for local, independent and emerging artists. The show bar is rich in cultural heritage and represents an authentic aspect of Montreal.
While SDA stated at the press conference that they plan on going ahead with the project, they did talk about the road-blocks that seem to be consistently slowing their progress. With a note of audible frustration Mr. Yaccarini responded to questions from Radio Canada and other reporters who asked if it would be possible to complete the project on time and if it would be possible to complete the project at all.
This is a developing story: check back soon for more updates and read our introduction to the public consultation hearing here.
Also watch for a photo essay on the area slated for development and an interview with Dead Dolls Dancer, Velma Candyass.