Professors, students call on uMontréal to cancel Catania real estate deal

October 16, 2012

A coalition of professors and students is urging the Université de Montréal to scrap a real estate deal with Groupe Frank Catania & Associés. uMontréal spent about $35 million to buy and repair the former convent, which has been a campus since 2004; however, it still needs $140 million in repairs. uMontréal agreed to sell it in 2008 to the highest bidder -- Catania -- for $28 million. The coalition, which aims to block a proposed luxury condo development on the site, claims uMontréal did not follow proper legal procedures when it made the deal. It contends Quebec universities must transfer authority over their unused facilities to the government, which ensures they are not needed by any other public institutions, before allowing a private-sector sale. The coalition's decision to challenge the sale in court has prevented the deal from being finalized, says a uMontréal spokesman. The Charbonneau Commission on corruption is looking into Catania, whose board chairman was arrested last spring on charges of fraud, conspiracy, and breach of trust. uMontréal's contract with Catania was signed back in 2008, long before the allegations surrounding the developer were made public, says the university spokesman, adding that the institution hopes to finalize the deal by December. Montreal Gazette | CTV