Chinatown | Mall turns into a hotel

The moribund shopping center Plaza Swato, in the heart of Montreal’s Chinatown, will change vocation to become a hotel establishment.

Posted at 6:00 AM

Andre Dubuque

Andre Dubuque

According to the information on the building permit, the hotel will be operated by the technical real estate company Sonder, although the latter refuses to confirm the information.

The owner of Swatow, located at 998 Saint-Laurent Boulevard, will convert the upper floors of the building into a hotel facility. The Ground Floor Mall will remain open.

Built at a cost of $20 million in 2009, Place Swatow has six floors above ground and two underground levels. Three floors have shops, two floors are for the office, and the top floor is occupied by a restaurant.

At first, ambitions were high. Finally, the building has faced all kinds of difficulties over the years. Famous travel agency Sinorama, which went bankrupt in 2018, had offices there.

The owner of Swatow “has requested the city to develop a hotel on the upper floors on the ground floor with a total area of ​​7,358 square metres. The project will not result in any modification to the exterior or to the floor level,” read documents from the city of Montreal, which had to allow such use conditional.

“The order will help to maintain the animation of the ground floor by maintaining the grocery store and convenience stores in the lower floors. In addition, the occupation of the vacant floors by a hotel will make possible the continuation of the building which could be weakened by not being occupied for a long time”, it is written there to justify the admission the demand.

A representative from Swatu could not be reached. Bounce an email sent to the address shown on their website, while front desk voicemail doesn’t take messages.

He pointed out that the conversion work had started since last March Journalism Take note of the building permit. The project, titled “Swatow Plaza Sonder Hotel Development”, has an estimated turnover of 16 million and is expected to be completed in early 2023.

Sonder, well located in Montreal

Sonder operates a stock of hotel-style rental housing at prices that rival Airbnb. Sonder is responsible for renting accommodation and not just a transaction platform like Airbnb.

Sonder has no news to share regarding this specific project at the moment, but it continues to grow in Montreal. The company just opened Sonder Maisonneuve, a new 157-unit building located in the heart of downtown Montreal.

Calling from Sonder to Journalism Through a local PR agency

Sonder entered into an agreement with the Quebec government in December 2020 to establish its Canadian headquarters there, at 425 Viger Avenue West. It currently employs approximately 200 people in Montreal. It was announced that the Montreal Center, dedicated to technological development, artificial intelligence, finance as well as customer service, would be the subject of an investment of 182 million and would create 700 jobs by 2025.

For this occasion, Quebec gave him a loan of 25 million and a loan with conditional repayment. (colloquially referred to as a “Waiverable” loan) of $5 million. No amount has been disbursed yet, Investissement Québec confirms.

It’s clear that Sundar has struggled during the pandemic. His activity increases when deconstruction becomes a reality. In the first quarter of 2022, it recorded an occupancy rate of 73% of its inventory of 7,700 housing units. Its quarterly revenue has reached $80 million. The company accumulates losses. The title of the company, which has been listed on Nasdaq since last January, has been withdrawn to the stock market index tranche.

According to her business plan, Sonder rents out the entire apartment building from the owner and then operates it as a tourist residence. According to her website, Sonder is present in more than 35 cities, and owns seven hotels in Montreal. Montreal ranks among the five cities where Sonder offers the most rental accommodation, along with New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Dubai.

Sonder was founded in Montreal in 2014 by McGill alumnus Francis Davidson. Based in San Francisco.

In collaboration with William Leclerc, Journalism

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  • 36.4%
    Hotel occupancy rate on the island of Montreal in the first quarter of 2022

    Source: Tourism Montreal

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