07/05/2013 07:09 EDT | Updated 09/04/2013 05:12 EDT

Downtown Îlot Voyageur eyesore to be converted into condos

A major part of the abandoned Îlot Voyageur project in downtown Montreal has been sold to a Vancouver-based developer.

The infamous stalled project, which helped bring the Université du Québec à Montréal to near-bankruptcy, was originally meant to be a student housing complex.

But the university abandoned the development in 2007 after serious cost overruns.

For years, the building’s skeleton sat empty next to the city’s bus terminal, on the corner of Berri Street and Ontario Street East.

Now the site has been sold to the developer Aquilini for $45 million. The company plans to inject another $100 million into the site to convert it into apartments and condos.

Aquilini vice-president, Jocelyn Lafond, said the central location of building — which is near the university, the Berri-UQAM metro station and the new superhospital — made it an obvious choice.

"In real estate there are three secrets. It's location, location, location. Îlot Voyageur is the best location we still have in downtown," Lafond said.

The government of Quebec bought the Îlot Voyageur site for $200 million, after the project was abandoned by UQAM.

Taxpayers will still end up losing money in the end, but Jean-François Lisée, the minister responsible for Montreal, said it’s the best solution given the difficult situation.

"We'll have affordable rentals and condominiums that will give more life to the surrounding area," he said.

The minister said the government will use $2 million from the sale to invest in student housing cooperatives in the same neighbourhood.