A new, high-speed, high-frequency public transportation link isn’t just an investment in transportation, but also a catalyst for development.
Greater Montreal’s planned new electric light-rail transit line, the Réseau express métropolitain (REM), includes seven stations planned for the West Island. Construction is set to begin on the line as soon as next month, with the first trains running by 2021 if all goes according to plan.
With construction comes noise, dust, traffic delays and other disruptions. But when the bulldozers, diggers and cement mixers show up, so do the developers and investors.
In cities like Vancouver, Chicago, and Portland, property values for homes and commercial real estate within a 15-minute walk of a commuter rail station rose starting around two years before completion. This boost in real estate values isn’t just due to the building of the station itself, but also how the neighbourhood develops around it.
Urbanist Paul Lewis, who is a professor at the Université de Montréal, said creating densely developed, diverse and walkable neighbourhoods within that one-kilometre radius of a station is critical to the success of the station, as well as the overall quality of life for people living and working nearby.
Université Laval economics professor François Des Rosiers said the market premium for properties near a commuter train station varies widely. His studies, as well as others in the field, have found it can vary from a low of around two per cent to over nine per cent. The most impressive increases are typically in areas that had not previously been served by an efficient transit system, he said.
“By and large what we can say is that the addition of a train station has a positive impact on houses that are nearby the stations,” said Des Rosiers.
Although most people depend on cars to get around the West Island, Century 21 realtor Angela Langtry said homes near the existing AMT train line already command a premium, and she expects the same will be true for homes near the REM. She said savvy developers, homebuyers and speculators are already eyeing properties near the proposed stations.
“Already the market in the West Island is on fire,” Langtry said. “We’re short on inventory, and we’re seeing a lot of multiple offers. Factoring in more accessible public transportation is just going to increase this.”
Langtry said she has also been hearing some sellers in the West Island are waiting longer to list their homes, anticipating that they may get more for their property after an REM stations is built nearby.
More information on the seven proposed West Island stations, Dorval (airport), Kirkland (Jean-Yves St.) , Pierrefonds-Roxboro (near Jean-Brillant Ave.), Sunnybrooke-Gouin Blvds., Pointe-Claire (Fairview Ave. and Sources Blvd.) and Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue (north of Highway 40), is on the REM’s website at rem.info/en/montreal-west.