Skip to main content Skip to footer

Montreal’s REM is attracting institutional investment and driving local value

Montreal Gazette Article 3 hero

Colliers experts Alexandre Ménard and Roxanne Gora examine the effects of the Réseau express métropolitain on property values and investment flows into the city


When the $6.9 billion Réseau express métropolitain (REM) light rail system was announced in 2016, it initiated a land rush by developers planning commercial, retail and residential projects surrounding 26 transit stations linking downtown Montreal, the South Shore, West Island, North Shore and Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. Scheduled for completion by 2027, the REM is already ushering in a mixed-use building boom that’s attracting investment and increasing property value across all asset classes.

Alexandre Ménard, senior vice president, capital markets, with leading commercial real estate company Colliers notes that REM development opportunities are attracting extraordinary investment interest in light of predictions that the Greater Montreal Area may see immigration levels increasing significantly along the REM corridor in the coming years.

“The low-hanging fruit in cities on the South Shore and the West Island where investors have been acquiring future development sites is now mostly gone,” says Ménard. “The REM is driving investment not only domestically in the Greater Montreal Area, but at the national and international level as well. Canada is already seen as a stable country to invest in, and Montreal is now seen as one of the three big cities alongside Toronto and Vancouver.



“The REM satisfies the need of institutional developers to invest in transit-oriented development projects and investment properties, which is aligned with environmental guidelines in their ESG policies.”

He points to a mixed-use office building represented by Colliers, located alongside McGill station in downtown Montreal at the intersection of the REM train and Green metro lines.

“The development has everything going for it, from desirability of location to demographic demand, to public transit accessibility,” he says. “It checks every box as a generational investment opportunity.”

The REM also presents other investment opportunities along its length. As each station location was announced, vacant land was secured with the intention of building high-rise residential and mixed-use projects.

Ménard points to the success of projects along the first phase of the REM, set to open in Spring 2023. In Brossard, Colliers’ client Devimco created the first REM transit-oriented development, the successful mixed-use Solar Uniquartier, built around the REM du Quartier.

But other development prospects are longer-term and market specific. In REM-served Pointe Claire, for example, a development moratorium has been imposed until stakeholders develop a long-term urban strategy.

“In other locations, municipal infrastructure such as sewer systems is not ready to serve larger populations,” Ménard says. “The full value of these developments will be seen over time as challenges are resolved. In the future, we may see different models as new transit is announced, where the local municipal and provincial authorities will have more say in development and capture more of the increase in land values through acquisition of properties around future stations.”

Roxanne Gora, director, valuation & advisory services with Colliers, notes that the REM is anticipated to increase land values across the board, specifically where municipal planning has already allowed for mixed-use and higher density developments.

“Many communities to be served by an upcoming REM station have considered transit-oriented development and their official plans and zoning reflect that,” she says. “In the West Island, for example, longer term land use goals include intensification, encouragement of mixed uses and the strengthening of the housing stock.”

To date, there are examples of what this planning work can achieve. For instance, West Island properties in Pointe-Claire, on either side of Autoroute 40 where the REM line extends, have seen significant new medium to high density development over the past five years. Gora reports that new retailers are moving in, while vacant or underutilized sites are springing to life through increased sales activity and plans for future development. Demographics are also expected to change as more young families move in, driving West Island neighbourhood growth.

Gora also points to successful transit-oriented planning changes on the Chemin Bates corridor in Mount Royal, where rezoning is now accommodating medium-density residential development. Similar zoning changes have encouraged development along Henri Bourassa Boulevard in St. Laurent.

While the REM will undoubtedly allow some commuters to give up their cars, Gora notes that the availability of ample parking around some stations will be necessary to promote ridership.

“It will allow residents underserved by public transit to access REM stations,” she says. “From an appraisal perspective, when looking at connectivity, it is not enough for a property to simply be in reasonable range of an artery or transit line, but rather how accessible the property truly is, based on the perceived benefit of the end user.”

For Ménard, all development is underscored by the residential development necessary to support commercial, retail and industrial development.

“There’s a huge demand in Greater Montreal to build residential,” Ménard says. “When you add public transportation like the REM stations, value creation follows.”

Get more insights from Colliers experts about the impact of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) on Montreal’s commercial real estate landscape.

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Colliers.

Read in Montreal Gazette


For More Information, Please Contact:

Roxanne Gora

Director

Montreal

Roxanne joined the Ottawa Valuation team in September of 2015 and has since grown her expertise to include a wide variety of asset types such as industrial, land, multi-family, retail, office, self-storage and special use properties. Based in Montreal, Roxanne works with both Ottawa and Montreal teams, with valuation experience in primary, secondary and tertiary markets throughout Ontario & Quebec for a range of clients such as institutional investors, middle-markets and owner-occupiers. Roxanne is able to provide a variety of valuation consulting reports such as appraisals, market rent studies and feasibility studies.    

Before Colliers Roxanne was a property manager in Montreal, which exposed her to a number of aspects of the real estate industry. In this role, Roxanne was involved with leasing negotations for residential and commercial tenants, the organization and supervision of building systems and operations, and ensuring that the financial objectives of the company were attained.

 

View Expert

Michelle Santos

Head of Content, Marketing | Canada

Vancouver - Oceanic Plaza

Michelle oversees Colliers Canada’s content program, conceptualizing and creating strategic campaigns and materials that reach target audiences via optimal channels, and meet project, client and business objectives. Collaborating with internal experts,  clients and content partners, she develops content that elevates the brand, further positions the company as an industry thought leader, and provides Colliers, its people  and its clients a competitive advantage.  

In her previous role as Communications Manager, Michelle oversaw the Canadian business' internal and external communications, content strategy for client-facing collateral, and PR program.

View Expert