The city of Montreal had to block off the west side of Sainte-Catherine on Friday because of a century-old vacant building threatening to collapse just outside the Eaton Centre.
Around noon, large city fences were occupied in front of the building, closing part of the sidewalk and traffic lane. Passers-by still move on the opposite sidewalk, in front of the shopping center.
Early in the morning a simple yellow rope was installed to quickly set up a security perimeter.
In situ, it was possible to see that a few bricks had fallen from the party wall into a nearby vacant lot.
The building, which is empty, is actually located right next to the former Super Sex club strip, which went up in smoke in October 2021.
It also belongs to the same owner who built this heritage, who was left behind after the fire.
Engineers had inspected the building earlier this week. Then he had identified a problem with the structural integrity of the building that could present dangers, confirmed on the spot by André Jude, who presented himself as the owner.
However, the company that owns that building and the vacant land is owned by New York real estate developer Ben Ashkenazy.
According to Forbes, his fortune is estimated at $2.6 billion.
Not quite an act
“How did we get there?!” asks Glenn Castanheira, general manager of the Center-ville Commercial Development Corporation on Twitter.
In 2021, after the Super Sex fire, Mr. Castanheira protested that the watchers were neglecting to protect heritage buildings.
“The fire happened in 2021, we’re in 2023.” Not much seems to have been done,” said Dinu Bumbaru, project director at Heritage Montreal.
He hopes that a solution can be found to consolidate the building.
“We put a lot of money together to renew Sainte-Catherine Street, decorate it, improve it and enhance its heritage,” he said. “And there we have a very beautiful building that is in danger of disappearing because I put too much into the forms and not the site itself.”
According to him, the City of Montreal has powers in terms of public security. But sometimes he believes in a gradual, gentle course of action.