07/05/2013 06:29 EDT | Updated 09/04/2013 05:12 EDT

Quebec government sells off big white elephant in downtown Montreal

MONTREAL - The Quebec government has shed itself of a multimillion-dollar white elephant, selling off a half-finished bus terminal Friday.

The Ilot Voyageur project is considered a symbol of mismanagement of public funds.

The skeletal downtown structure has been untouched since 2007, when cost overruns put a stop to the ambitious project and nearly bankrupted the Universite du Quebec a Montreal in the process.

The university had planned to build student housing on the upper floors of the site.

The Parti Quebecois government has sold the building to B.C.-based real-estate developer Aquilini.

The transaction is valued at $45.5 million and Aquilini plans to invest more than $150 million in a project to build 700 condos and apartments.

The downtown site is next to the intercity bus terminal and also to Berri-UQAM station, the central hub connecting Montreal's main subway lines.

The government's real-estate arm took possession of the abandoned project in 2010 and put it up for sale in 2012.

Premier Pauline Marois lamented the $225 million lost in the project, which is frequently cited as Exhibit A in past mismanagement of public funds.

The bus station will be run by the metropolitan transit agency and there is a plan to build some student housing on a separate site.