Montreal, Quebec: A Travelogue of Sorts
I realize that it has been two weeks since my last post and that is unacceptable. My feeble defense is that I have been traveling quite a bit lately and it’s hard to sit down and write a cohesive blog post when your only time in front of your computer is dealing with bills and travel schedules and the like. But now I’m here in Montreal for almost a week (sans épouse, sans enfant) attending a seminar on Mixed-Use Planning and Development, and by golly, you guys are going to hear about it.
Hosting the conference is LiveWorkLearnPlay, who bills themselves as a “boutique firm specializing in large-scale mixed-use real estate projects that bring places to life.” Essentially, they are the consultants that you bring in to help breathe life into your downtown project, whether it is brand new project, a revitalization attempt, or a faltering project. They go after the right retail and restaurant tenants, and then build daily rituals to make a place seem “happening” and livable. “Mixed-use” is their catch-all term that could mean New Urbanist Towns, College-towns, or downtown projects. They’ve been pretty wildly successful, as best I can tell. In an age when having the term “real estate” in your tag line generally signifies recent or imminent disaster, LWLP seems to be expanding.
I’ve been talking with these guys on and off for months now, ever since they were hired in a town where I had been working, and I took a small seminar course that they led at the Congress for the New Urbanism, but I’m not convinced, frankly, that they have some revolutionary method of enlivening communities, which in part is what I’m here in Montreal. I figure that if they are as good as they seem to be, I’ll definitely learn something, and maybe even find some work in the process. And if they are not, then I will have gotten to write off a trip to Montreal, which is shooting to the top of my list of cool cities.
So for the next week or so, I’ll post my thoughts on their process, and how to relates to the performing arts, as well as give you a little taste of Montreal in the process. It might be a lot more frequent, and a little less organized than my usual posts, but I thought a little serial might liven things up a bit.
Remind me never to book that 6:30 flight again. And then remind me that I vow to remind myself every single time I do it. I did it this time and had 10 minutes to make my connection in Atlanta at 9:30. The 2:30 flight to Montreal was booked solid, so it was make this flight or get to town at 1am… I hustled and made it, but I learned later that my bag didn’t run nearly as fast, so it caught the 2:30.
Customs was pretty easy in Montreal, especially with no luggage. So I was out the door of the airport in less than an hour to find a 75 degree day. Say what!?!? When I got out of my car at 5:30am in Panama City, FL, it was already 90 degrees. It being such a nice day, I decided to eschew the taxi and see if I couldn’t bus-subway-hike to my hotel.
It was great! Montreal has an incredibly clean and simple public transportation system. And the walk of the last 5 blocks was very interesting. The Hotel Nelligan is smack in the middle of “Old Montreal,” which was first settled in the early 17th century, and even spent some time as a walled city. To me, it is a cross between Barcelona and Paris’ Latin Quarter.
Montreal is decidedly French. 66% speak French at home as opposed to 20% that speak English. And it feels French so far. I had lunch at the rooftop bar at the hotel and had a Ham and stinky cheese Panini that could have been on any Parisian bistro menu.
Okay, so I promise tomorrow will have pithier stuff, but I wanted to set a primer for the week… Au Revoir!