CARBONLEO HAS BROUGHT THE FOUR SEASONS BRAND—AND HIGH-END LUXURY—BACK TO DOWNTOWN MONTREAL. THE GROUP IS ALSO PLANNING TO SPARK A SMALL RETAIL REVOLUTION WITH ROYALMOUNT, A MEGAPROJECT BEING EXECUTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH A BRANCH OF LUXURY CONGLOMERATE, LVMH. WE MET WITH CLAUDE MARCOTTE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND PARTNER AT CARBONLEO.
At his suggestion, we met Claude Marcotte in a private wine club, tucked away discreetly in the basement of a former industrial building in Saint-Henri. It was a welcome oasis of cool during the extreme heat wave that overtook Montreal this summer. More importantly, it was a quiet escape for the Carbonleo partner and Executive VP, who is very busy these days managing two huge real estate developments worth over $2 billion.
Work is in full swing on the Four Seasons Montreal project in the Golden Square Mile, just up the hill. There, Carbonleo is overseeing the construction of a mixed-use complex that was already shattering records before it had broken ground. As we learned this summer, one of the 18 ultra-luxury residences had been sold for more than $1,800 per square foot, something never before heard of for a condo in Montreal. “Sales are doing very well; we’ve sold more than half,” says a smiling Marcotte, who graduated from the Université de Montréal with a degree in urban planning and has been active in real estate for more than 30 years.
Most buyers thus far are “successful Montrealers who have chosen to invest in the city,” he adds. Marcotte and his team knew from the start that their project would attract the right clientele, despite the many skeptics who thought the condo prices were too high ($4 million to $15 million, before tax). “We have a very sophisticated understanding of the real estate market in Montreal,” he notes. “There are people who have sold homes in Outremont and Westmount and want to stay in the city; others also own properties around the world; many are Quebec families who want to stay close to children and grandchildren. Above all, each one wanted to buy the Four Seasons brand. It was a calculated bet: we really believed in that market, and sales have proved us right.”
“Montral is really entering a new era, with projects like Royalmount and Four Seasons, which are bound to enhance its international reputation.”
BACK IN MONTREAL
The $250 million project marks a return to Montreal for the Four Seasons brand, which left in 1994 when the city’s economy was in full slump. In a way, its return symbolizes the strong rebound Montreal has experienced in the last two years. Carbonleo and its principal shareholder (and president), Andrew Lutfy, will own the building, while Four Seasons will manage the hotel, which is scheduled to open next spring.
Designed by Montreal firms Lemay and Sid Lee, the complex will constitute a veritable luxury “ecosystem.” It will be connected to Holt Renfrew Ogilvy, which is undergoing a complete renovation and expansion to 40,000 square feet. A restaurant designed by Zébulon Perron will be run by a New York chef, and a huge ballroom will offer impressive views of downtown.
High-quality materials, including marble, exotic woods and crystal, will be used throughout the building, highlighting the interior designs of Philip Hazan (for the condos) and Gilles & Boissier (for the hotel). “This truly is the height of luxury,” says Marcotte.
NEXT STOP: ROYALMOUNT
A dozen kilometres from the Golden Square Mile, Carbonleo’s other major project will be changing the face of a less-than-inviting area by the year 2022. The group headed by Andrew Lutfy (who also owns Groupe Dynamite), will spend between $1.5 and $2 billion to build Royalmount, a brand-new neighbourhood that will replace a former industrial wasteland at the intersection of highways 15 and 40 in Ville Mont-Royal. After years of intense planning, work finally began this summer.
The design revolves around a huge commercial space unlike any ever seen in Canada, with 200 stores, 100 restaurants, movie theatres and performance venues. Green roofs, a pedestrian street, a central square, half a dozen hotels and some office towers are also part of the plan.
The project got an extra boost last June, when Carbonleo partnered with L. Catterton Real Estate (LCRE), the investment and real estate development branch of a corporation that includes LVMH and Groupe Arnault among its investors. “Bernard Arnault, LVMH and Catterton constitute a global powerhouse. They can invest anywhere in the world, and have completed some magnificent projects, including the Miami Design District,” says Marcotte. “Montreal is really entering a new era, with projects like Royalmount and Four Seasons, which are bound to enhance its international reputation.”
While he can’t confirm anything just yet, Claude Marcotte says it is “highly likely” that the project’s European partners will bring new luxury brands to Royalmount. The opening is scheduled for 2022.