REAL ES­TATE PRO­FILE

A Q&A with Yan Le Houil­lier

Montreal Gazette - - NEW HOMES & CONDOS - LORRI BENEDIK

Yan Le Houil­lier is the vi­brant 38-year-old pres­i­dent of de­vel­op­ment at Groupe Magma. He grew up in Mas­couche and at­tended Ar­mand-Cor­beil High School in nearby Ter­re­bonne. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, he headed to CEGEP Saint-Lau­rent to study mu­sic — specif­i­cally, the sax­o­phone. Al­though he has not picked up the in­stru­ment in years, he brings a mu­si­cian’s sen­si­bil­ity to his work.

We met at the Groupe Magma of­fice in Laval.

What hap­pened af­ter CEGEP?

My fa­ther, Michel Le Houil­lier, came to Mon­treal from Rouyn-No­randa at age 18 and be­gan work­ing for a con­crete man­u­fac­turer. Two years later he ven­tured out, on his own, within the same in­dus­try. Over a pe­riod of 30 years, he built a great rep­u­ta­tion and main­tained ex­cel­lent re­la­tion­ships with the devel­op­ers who were his clients.

When I grad­u­ated from CEGEP in 1999, my dad and I launched Groupe Magma to­gether, spe­cial­iz­ing in con­crete form­work. This term refers to items such as floors, stairs, col­umns and walls cre­ated by pour­ing con­crete into moulds. Build­ings with con­crete com­po­nents are quiet and durable.

When did you jump into real-es­tate de­vel­op­ment?

My fa­ther and I worked long hours, dou­bling our pro­duc­tion an­nu­ally, for a few years. Our clients are some of Mon­treal’s best devel­op­ers. I ad­mired their work and dreamed of con­struct­ing my own build­ings. In 2005, the time was right. I launched our de­vel­op­ment divi­sion, trans­form­ing Groupe Magma into a ver­ti­cally-in­te­grated firm. To­day, we are a land devel­oper, gen­eral con­trac­tor and con­crete sup­plier.

What were your first con­struc­tion projects?

In 2006 we built Les Manoirs Mas­son, in Mas­couche, which con­sists of 49 con­dos in seven build­ings. Each struc­ture con­tains seven two-bed­room units. When the project was completed I was very pleased, but found my­self with­out any­thing to work on. This ex­pe­ri­ence taught me that, in real-es­tate de­vel­op­ment, while work­ing on a project you must al­ways lay the ground­work for the next one.

I be­gan scout­ing for land and found a large prop­erty in Ter­re­bonne. We launched Cité des Pion­niers, which com­prises 315 con­dos in 10 build­ings on a pri­vate road. It’s like a small vil­lage.

It was a gi­ant step up from our first project. The in­vest­ment was great. I was still new to real-es­tate de­vel­op­ment, but my fa­ther’s longevity and rep­u­ta­tion served us well. We were able to get the fi­nanc­ing we needed. Our tar­geted de­mo­graphic was di­verse, so we in­cluded one-, two- and three-bed­room units and pent­houses.

Cité de Pion­niers took five years to com­plete.

What hap­pened next?

Be­tween 2011 and 2014, Groupe Magma de­vel­oped condo projects in St-Lam­bert, Laval and Griffin­town, to name a few. In 2014, we ac­quired a beau­ti­ful piece of land in Ville Lor­raine and cre­ated Le M Lor­raine — 98 con­dos, close to the water. It’s re­ally stun­ning.

While we were build­ing Le M Lor­raine, I heard about a public bid for a wa­ter­front prop­erty in Mon­tréal-Est, which is an in­de­pen­dent mu­nic­i­pal­ity in full re­vi­tal­iza­tion mode. At first, the lo­ca­tion did not in­ter­est me. Then I vis­ited the site and fell in love.

We bought the prop­erty and are cre­at­ing an ex­cit­ing mixed-use project called Le M Mon­tréal-Est. It will com­prise 92 con­dos in a seven-storey struc­ture. There will be com­mer­cial space at the ground level, in­clud­ing a gro­cery store.

To sep­a­rate the com­mer­cial floor from the dwellings we de­cided to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. We put the garage on the sec­ond floor. This means that the con­dos are si­t­u­ated on Floors 3 through 7 so that ev­ery owner can en­joy the lovely view.

Le M Mon­tréal-Est fea­tures a 17,000square-foot ter­race with a south­ern ex­po­sure, over­look­ing the river. Out­door ameni­ties are a swim­ming pool, hot tub, and fire­place; in­door ones in­clude a gym and a re­cep­tion room, com­plete with kitchen.

Vis­tas from the ter­race are ex­quis­ite. On a clear day you can see Mont St-Bruno and Mont St-Hi­laire.

We are very ex­cited about this de­vel­op­ment.

What do you do when you are not work­ing ?

My wife, Chan­tal, and I have two sons: Gabriel, 11, and Maxime, 9. I am a pretty busy per­son, but I think Chan­tal is even busier than me. Both boys are crazy about hockey and soc­cer. Af­ter of­fice hours, I trans­form into a sports coach.

What puts the spring in your step?

I am a home­body by na­ture, and feel for­tu­nate to earn my liv­ing cre­at­ing res­i­den­tial projects that will have a pos­i­tive im­pact on our clients’ qual­ity of life. It’s thrilling to start with an empty piece of land, like a blank slate, and watch it evolve. I en­joy show­ing my chil­dren the re­sults hard work can bring.

When I think back to my sax­o­phone-play­ing days, I see a par­al­lel with my cho­sen field. I no longer make mu­sic, but artistry is still a big part of who I am and what I do.

An artist’s ren­der­ing of Le M Mon­tréal-Est at night shows the com­mer­cial space at ground level, garage space on the sec­ond floor, and condo units on Floors 3 through 7.

PHO­TOS (3): COUR­TESY OF GROUPE MAGMA

Cité des Pion­niers, Groupe Magma’s project in Ter­re­bonne, took five years to com­plete and com­prises 315 con­dos in 10 build­ings.

GROUPE MAGMA ARTIST’S RENDERINGS (2): COUR­TESY OF

The 92 units of Le M Mon­tréal-Est vary in size from 760 to 1,615 square feet. They oc­cupy Floors 3 through 7, giv­ing ev­ery owner a great view.

Le M Lor­raine, a build­ing with 98 condo units, close to the wa­ter, in the city of Lor­raine.

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