Hampstead developers try to entice residents to leave old building, move into new

Developers in Hampstead are offering a new deal to the tenants of two low-rent apartment buildings they want to demolish to make way for luxury condos.

The residents of the twin apartment buildings on Côte-Saint-Luc Road say it is one of the few places in Hampstead with affordable housing.

Developers Mitchell Moss and Mitchell Abrahams held a meeting Thursday night, offering the option to move into the new building when it is completed.

In a letter sent to tenants, the developers offered the tenants a rate of $900 a month for a one-bedroom apartment or $1,200 a month for a two-bedroom. 

The letter also said they will pay the moving costs for tenants to leave the old building and move into the new one, in addition to a payment equal to six months’ rent.

“We believe that offering our tenants a realistic and affordable option to remaining part of our community in a modern, high-quality rental project … is fair and an expression of the seriousness with which we hope to move ahead,” the letter reads.

Only 2 tenants showed

But the tenants say it’s not enough, pointing to a referendum on the development taking place on Sunday.

Marie Pontini was one of only two tenants who attended Thursday’s meeting.

She said the developers didn’t give people enough warning it was taking place because most people in the buildings work and some are single parents.

“If they really wanted to speak with the tenants, they would’ve made sure they could reach the tenants,” she said.

The new deal didn’t sweeten the pot for Pontini, who said that she and others aren’t looking for compensation. 

She told CBC it’s about the “precedent” and keeping affordable housing in the neighbourhood.

Mayor William Steinberg’s relation to one of the developers has led residents to accuse him of having a conflict of interest. (CBC)

Accusations surround project

Hampstead mayor William Steinberg wants the project to get the green light and previously vetoed council votes that would have scrapped the project altogether.

But many residents claim he’s in a conflict of interest: Steinberg is related to one of the developers, Mitchell Moss.

Abrahams, Moss’ partner in the development, confirmed that his partner is a “very distant cousin” of the mayor, but said that “there are probably a hundred different Steinberg related cousins in the town of Hampstead.”

Steinberg recused himself from a council vote involving that same cousin in 2012. He did not in this case.

The referendum vote on Sunday will decide the future of the project.