Regarded by many as Canada’s culture capital, Montreal is the largest city in Quebec and one of the largest in North America. The city takes its name from Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill located in the heart of the city. Centrally located at one end of the St-Lawrence River, Montreal is the closest major Canadian market to Europe. The city is an important centre of commerce, finance, industry, technology, culture and world affairs.
Montreal’s main industries range from aerospace to electronic goods, pharmaceuticals, printed goods, software engineering, telecommunications, textile and apparel manufacturing, tobacco and transportation. The city is home to the headquarters of many important multinational firms, including Air Canada, Bombardier, VIA Rail, Canadian National Railway, Cirque du Soleil, CGI Group, Rio Tinto Alcan, Molson, SNC Lavalin, Saputo and Standard Life, among others. In the aerospace industry, Montreal is an important North American presence for several large international organizations such as IATA, ICAO and SITA. In addition, there are numerous other not-for-profit organizations such as WADA. Montreal is also home to the Caisse de Depot et de Placement du Québec, which is the Province of Quebec’s pension fund managing in excess of $ 200 Billion in total assets.
Montreal’s strong economic fundamentals are characterized by a diverse, highly-educated and expanding population of 3.9 million. With access to nine universities (including McGill) and 12 junior colleges within an eight-kilometre radius, Montreal has the highest concentration of post-secondary students of all North American cities. Most residents speak both French and English fluently, with a large percentage also speaking a third language.
The city has a healthy commercial real estate market. Over the past decade, the office, retail, industrial and investment sectors have all displayed remarkable stability despite global economic woes. Though the city itself is an island, the north and south shores are part of the Greater Montreal Area (GMA) and have allowed for substantial real estate market expansion.
Due to its strategic location at the mouth of the St-Lawrence River, its presence as the closest major Canadian market to Europe and the fact that it is the bilingual and economic centre of the province of Quebec, the Montreal office market is among the most important across the continent. With nearly 90 million square feet of office product and a creative, multi-lingual and multi-cultural workforce, the city has developed concentrations clustered around the aviation, educational, gaming and professional-services industries.
The downtown office market caters mainly to larger users who operate globally and typically require more than 75,000 square feet of space. As a result, cycles tend to be longer, with historical demand for new development limited to government-subsidized clusters.
Due to the city’s strong employment levels, its position as a premiere tourist destination and its European flair, Montreal’s retail sector has expanded steadily over the course of time. Sainte-Catherine Street, Montreal’s main retail strip, ranks among the world’s 30 most sought-after fashion retail corridors. The list, which considers asking rental rates as a prime indicator, compares Montreal’s Sainte-Catherine Street with the Champs d’Elysées in Paris, Fifth Avenue in New York, Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, and Bond Street in London.
With more than 250 million square feet of industrial space, Montreal’s industrial market is the second largest in Canada. Low energy costs (hydro-electricity) and an extensive infrastructure system that links the GMA’s main industrial sectors continue to contribute to the market’s strength. The Port of Montreal is the largest inland port in the world, handling more than 25 million tonnes of cargo annually. As a result, Montreal has remained an important trans-shipment point for raw materials, machinery and consumer goods. Consequently, Montreal is an important rail city and the headquarters of Canadian National Railway (CN Rail).
Institutional investors – pension funds, REITs and public companies have been present in Montreal for decades due to its large inventory base. While institutional investors dominate the office sector, they have also invested billions in the retail, industrial and multi-residential markets. Private investors tend to have stronger footholds in the industrial and multi-residential sectors.
Avison Young’s roots in Montreal date to 2002. In recent years, Montreal brokers have negotiated large transactions in all asset categories while partnering on major projects with other Avison Young offices in Canada and the United States. What differentiates Avison Young’s Montreal office is a core of senior-level brokers whose experience and track record are unrivalled in the marketplace. Due to this, Avison Young’s Montreal office is particularly well-suited to advise clients through the most complex real estate situations involving office, retail, and industrial leases, as well as any acquisition or disposition situations.