Montreal Vacancies Leave Commercial Corridors Struggling

Areas like St-Denis Street used to be bustling shopping destinations, but a shift in recent years has resulted in many empty storefronts.

1 minute read

January 27, 2020, 9:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink

St-Denis Street Montreal

bonjourdo / Pixabay

René Bruemmer explores the issue of commercial vacancies in Montreal, where 15 percent of street-level retail spaces are empty. "Among the causes cited are some of the highest commercial property taxes in Canada, avaricious landlords demanding high rents, online shopping, restrictive zoning policies and debilitating road construction."

St-Denis Street is one commercial area that has been hit especially hard. Once a premiere shopping area, the corridor is now struggling with vacancies and decreases in foot traffic. "Experts say the vacancies are also a symptom of stores failing to adapt as consumers shift to buying local instead of driving to destination streets, seeking neighbourhood shops for vegetables or manicures or shoe repair. St-Denis has relatively few stores and shops catering to local needs, and merchants say that’s killing their businesses," says Bruemmer.

Solutions for revitalizing areas like St-Denis are not always clear. The causes of decline vary from street to street and are dependent on local policies and regulations as well as external factors, such as online shopping. "Arteries that are flourishing, like Fleury St. in Ahuntsic or Wellington St. in Verdun, have strong business associations that have reconsidered their needs," notes Bruemmer.

Thursday, January 16, 2020 in Montreal Gazette

Red on white 'Room for Rent, Inquire Inside' sign

In Most U.S. Cities, Archaic Laws Limit Roommate Living

Critics argue laws preventing unrelated adults from living in the same home fail to understand the modern American household.

May 24, 2023 - The Atlantic

Vancouver Chuck Wolfe

Ten Signs of a Resurgent Downtown

In GeekWire, Chuck Wolfe continues his exploration of a holistic and practical approach to post-pandemic urban center recovery, anchored in local context and community-driven initiatives that promote livability, safety, and sustainability.

May 24, 2023 - GeekWire

New York MTA subway station

Off-Peak is the New On-Peak

Public transit systems in major U.S. cities are starting to focus on non-rush hour travelers as pre-pandemic commuting patterns shift and transportation needs change.

May 19, 2023 - Curbed

Nighttime view of Tacoma, Washington skyline

Tacoma Coalition Calls for ‘Tenants’ Bill of Rights’

The group wants to put more power in the hands of tenants, but the city has its own, competing proposal for addressing the housing crisis.

May 26 - The Urbanist

Wind turbines sillhouetted against a sunset sky along roadway in New Mexico

New Power Transmission Line Approved in the Southwest

The proposed transmission line will transfer wind-produced power from New Mexico to cities in Arizona and California.

May 26 - U.S. News And World Report

Aerial view of 238 freeway in Oakland, California cutting through neighborhood with small houses

The Limitations of ‘Reconnecting Communities’

The Biden administration has pledged to correct the damage imposed on communities by highways and infrastructure, but many projects are only committing to minor improvements, not transformative changes.

May 26 - The New York Times

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.