With the traditional toss of a shovelful of soil, Huntingdon officially broke ground on the Place du Faubourg, a 47,000-square-foot commercial development project that will feature a Maxi supermarket, stores and professional businesses, as well as a fast-food restaurant and drive-through.
Huntingdon’s mayor, André Brunette, attended the ceremony on April 28 along with members of the municipal council and real estate developers Éric and Samuel D’Avignon of Sphère Société Immobilière. Also present were Patrick Blanchette, the Quebec vice-president of Maxi for Loblaw Companies Limited, and Huntingdon MNA Carole Mallette. According to Brunette, Loblaw Companies Limited commissioned a market study before deciding to come to Huntingdon. “There was room for a second grocery store,” he says, noting the new supermarket will serve Huntingdon residents as well as those in neighbouring municipalities.
“We are the centre of the MRC, so we have to offer more services,” Brunette explains, suggesting that as residential development has taken off, it was time to start looking at commercial developments that would support this growth. “We have a master plan being developed,” he shares, noting a planning committee has been formed that includes 20 citizens. “Working with and getting ideas from our citizens gives us a clear view of where we are going,” he says, noting this new project will respond to area needs.
Work is expected to begin over the next month on the new 28,000-square foot supermarket located off François-Cleyn Street near the corner with Ridge Road. The goal is to have the exterior of the building completed by June 2024, when Maxi will take over to install and stock the interior. Blanchette says the hope is to open in time for the start of the school year.
The supermarket will be built in the style of the new Maxi 3.0 model, which is based on bringing the discount grocery retailer into smaller communities by significantly reducing the traditional footprint per store. Blanchette says the fact that the new Maxi is being built next to residential developments was also a determining factor in their coming to Huntingdon. “We know if we install here, we will have clients,” he says.
Samuel D’Avignon, the director of operations for Sphère Société Immobilière, agrees that the new Place du Faubourg is complementary to the residential development. “Today’s ground-breaking also marks the launch of the final phase of our overall project, which includes 240 homes currently under construction,” he explains.
D’Avignon admits that, as a real estate developer, he works with many municipalities. “I have never seen a team that works so effectively,” he says of the Huntingdon administration. Work first began on the housing development – now referred to as the Faubourgs du Haut-Saint-Laurent – in July 2021, and will include semi-detached homes, two-storey cottages, and townhouses when complete.
Along with the new homes and supermarket, the development includes 15,600 square feet of commercial space that will be available to rent. The Maxi and the commercial area in the same building should be operational by the end of 2024. The remaining commercial space, including a planned fast-food restaurant, is not expected to be open before 2025. The remainder of the space will be converted into parking to serve the different businesses.
“The citizens are happy with the development and the team is working very hard,” says D’Avignon, noting construction within the development is going well and sales are above expectations. “It is looking good,” he smiles.
“It’s exciting!” exclaims Brunette. “I think the project is going to be a great asset to the town,” he says. “The more we have, the better.”