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Grey Nuns residence expands

Sisters' early departure opens up more residence and study space
March 19, 2013
By Tom Peacock

The Sisters of Charity of Montreal, more commonly known as the Grey Nuns, will shortly be leaving their large property on René-Lévesque Boulevard between Guy and St-Mathieu streets, known as the Mother House. The move, which comes nine years earlier than originally planned, will allow Concordia to expand its student residence on the property and create more much-needed individual and group study space on its downtown campus.

Concordia purchased the Grey Nuns property in 2007 and since then most of the building’s west wing has been used as a student residence. The newly vacated space will now accommodate an additional 355 student residents and up to 600 individual and group study spaces. The expanded residence will open in April 2014. The daycare facility on the property that serves the Concordia community will remain open.

Concordia’s Vice-President, Services, Roger Côté, says the university still plans to eventually convert the Grey Nuns property into academic space. “We will optimize the use of the newly acquired space until we can afford to have the facilities repurposed,” he said.

Côté pointed out that as long as the Grey Nuns property is being used primarily as a student residence, it will have no impact on the university’s operational budget, since it will be funded by the rental income. “It is an excellent short-term plan, since there is a need for student residences,” he said.

The university is ensuring that all renovations to the chapel on the property reflect current best practices in heritage preservation. In consultation with the Ministère de la culture et des communications, select objects will be transferred to the sisters’ facility in Old Montreal, and a portion of the pews will be moved to St. Joseph’s Oratory. The chapel space will then be converted into approximately 250 new study spaces.

Additionally, more than 300 study spaces will be created outside the chapel, with a portion reserved for students living in the Grey Nuns residence.

A cafeteria will also be provided on site to serve resident students. As well, the main entrance to the residence will be moved from its current location on St-Mathieu Street to the east side of the property on Guy Street.

“The new entrance will decrease traffic and noise from users currently accessing the residence from the St-Mathieu side,” Côté said. “This is something the local residents have requested and which we have been unable to provide until now.”

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