UPDATED: May 25, 2009, 4:44 pm
Cause for concern or mere progress? Montrealers will be interested to know that our so-called red-light district of lower St-Laurent is currently slated for some controversial renovations by a group called Angus Development Corp.
The scoop: The stretch of St-Laurent slated for reno is between Ste-Catherine and René-Lévesque, and according to a March 6, 2009 article in The Gazette, has been purchased by Angus, a “non-profit development corporation that wants to transform that part of the red light district into an eco-friendly showcase of art and socially responsible retail.” Sounds good, so far. Problem is, this developer is also trying to acquire the building that is currently home to such colourful (and historical) businesses as Café Cléopatra and the Montreal Pool Room.
Though the Gazette article also notes that “The report says the street level on St. Laurent would become an avenue dedicated to ‘responsible retail,’ lined with stores selling fair-trade and bio- and eco-friendly products that promote Quebec design,” and that although the company plans to put in a “restaurant, lounge or café,” no fast-food restaurants will be allowed, nor any chain stores.
Ambitious plans for Montreal’s storied Main, but some citizens are protesting these changes as signs of gentrification and the destruction of local history. Montreal-based burlesque troupe, the Dead Doll Dancers, are fighting to save this stretch of St-Laurent, as most of their shows take place at Café Cleopatra. In fact, a Facebook user named Amy Hudston has been circulating information about upcoming planning meetings, suggesting that “anyone who is concerned about cultural elitism, gentrification, sex workers rights, travesty theatre, historical architecture, expropriation, etc.” attend to voice their opinions.
The next meeting is slated for May 25 at 7 PM at
2-22 Ste-Catherine . The meeting’s topic will be “Architectural concept and urban insertion and heritage.” There is another meeting scheduled for May 26 at 7 PM at the Quadrilatère Saint-Laurent on the same topic, for those who can’t make the first.
- Main’s red light row to get a makeover (Gazette, March 6, 2009)
- Green company develops red light district (McGill Daily, March 30, 2009)
- Turning on the red light (Mirror, April 17, 2008)
- Facing Urban Renewal, Montreal’s Red-Light District Gathers Defenders (Planetizen, April 9, 2007)