400 Dowd: Where the past meets contemporary luxury
Apiece of Montreal’s architectural history, originally constructed as a textile mill, anchors 400 Dowd, a new housing development that will soar 17 storeys high and provide unique living space in the Quartier International. Scheduled for completion in the summer of 2014, it will offer 120 condos of varying size — from studios to one- and two-bedroom units.
The red-brick building that anchors this modern glass-andsteel high-rise, built in 1870, was the first specifically designated industrial building within the parish of St. Patrick’s Basilica and, as such, was eventually recognized as a landmark structure. The 400 Dowd project, which marries the historic facade of an industrial building with the modern architecture of a high-rise dwelling, creates a seamless unity of intelligently designed units for any urban lifestyle.
“This project represents the restoration of a key heritage element in what was once known as a parish of St. Patrick’s Basilica, and turns it into a very modern residential building,” said Noam Schnitzer, who is part of the Northcliff and Olymbec Group development team responsible for 400 Dowd. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the formerly-residential neighbourhood grew increasingly industrial, eventually becoming home to various printing and paper manufacturing plants — and acquiring the name Paper Hill. Renamed the Unity District in 1999, the area has become a sought-after location, with older buildings converted to condos and new buildings rising up, and has once again grown residential — albeit with a difference.
“What was important to us in this development,” Schnitzer said of 400 Dowd, “was the need to create a building with more than just living space. We took the opportunity to add special elements to this downtown dwelling and created an oasis effect.
“We have very intelligent, beautifully designed common areas, for example. The gym faces a central garden, which is gorgeous, and a multi-function room allows the residents to entertain beyond what their units may allow for — including a cinema lounge, pool room, and a communal kitchen.
“Residents have access to the garden as well as to a spa with a steam room, sauna, yoga room and lounge. It’s important to have such amenities because when it’s dark outside for 18 hours a day during much of the year, you need to have a place to unwind. In turn, the units become more open and more flexible in that everyone is able to share these high-end facilities.”
Using the value-added design approach that enhances the living experience, “as opposed to the rather cookie-cutter concept in most residential development,” the new condo building borrows several elements from the freeform interior design one associates with authentic lofts. There are 10-foot ceilings at 400 Dowd; open-space units that have a closed bedroom but are significantly flexible and can adapt to anyone’s lifestyle; and floor-toceiling windows that allow a tremendous amount of light. Attention to detail makes this building truly unique.
To date, 49 units have already been sold. Buyers range from young couples to empty-nesters, and tend to be professionals who want to live downtown, but not necessarily in the hustle and bustle that is the main city centre.
“We are not downtown; we’re the new downtown,” Schnitzer said. “We’ve repositioned the downtown of Montreal.
“The Quartier International should be recognized as, perhaps, Montreal’s most important urban planning effort — one that has effectively enabled the further expansion of the city toward the south by bridging the gap between the downtown core and the Old Port. Given the success of this massive effort, there has been a huge upswing in the value of the surrounding area, both commercially and residentially—so much so that the essence of Montreal has shifted from St. Laurent Blvd. to McGill St.”
The 400 Dowd project benefits from that shift, finding itself in one of the most sought-after neighbourhoods — an area connected to all major transportation routes, as well as a myriad of services; hotels add a 24-hour-a-day presence, and there are numerous cafés, ateliers and galleries for local residents to enjoy.
“It has become such a dynamic area; people see it as a fantastic alternative to the downtown core,” Schnitzer said. “And for us, 400 Dowd is a downtown project that offers the best of both worlds — it’s technically downtown, but not in the fray. The area is very tranquil.”