MONTREAL – After closing its doors for good in 2009, Motel Raphaël is seeing its final days: demolition of the building started Wednesday.
Located at 7455 Sainte Anne De Bellevue Blvd., close to Highway 20, the motel has become a taggers paradise.
Recently, developers considered building condominiums on the site, but Étienne Brunet, political adviser for the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, told Global News there are no projects on the table for the available space.
“The [owner of the land] has until June 5 to finish demolition,” Brunet said, adding that the date was agreed upon when the permit was distributed.
If the deadline isn’t met, it will be up to the borough to decide what to do with the building.
Why is it a landmark?
Once known as a meeting place for prostitutes and drug dealers, Motel Raphaël has been associated with many crime stories in the past, increasing its infamy.
The now boarded up and decrepit motel had its share of fires and criminal activity, including a raid in 1976 that targeted Montreal’s Irish mafia.
A far cry from what remains of the building, Motel Raphaël once also housed a restaurant and swimming pool.
Motel Raphaël plays a song with the original sign in the background. Motel Raphaël/Global News
Motel Raphaël plays a song with the original sign in the background.
Motel Raphaël/Global News
Montreal-based indie-folk-pop band Motel Raphaël found inspiration for its name when one of the group’s members sat on a re-routed 211 bus heading from the West Island to downtown.
Singer/guitarist Maya Malkin told Global News band member Clara Legault saw the run down motel and thought it would be a great idea for the group’s name.
Malkin explained it’s a wink to the city, something that Montrealers, but not necessarily outsiders, would understand.
After it was announced the building would be torn down, the band posted a eulogy to the motel on their Facebook page.
“It is with heavy hearts that we acknowledge the demolition of the original Motel Raphaël Montreal,” wrote the group.
“The wrecking ball is set to fly at a moment’s notice.”
The band also shared a short story of how they acquired the motel’s sign.
“They arrived in the McDonald’s parking lot on Saint-Jacques, and parked,” the story starts.
“Armed with a crowbar they weren’t positive how to use, and a stepladder from someone’s basement…quickly and with almost no mishaps, they managed to retrieve half the sign.”
“When the coast was clear, they gallivanted back and managed to hack down the second half of the sign.”
“The moral of this story is that you should learn to use a crowbar, and also follow your dreams – how has it already been five years that we have been doing this!”
Malkin said the band members plan to visit the demolished site, and it will “be the moment where it sinks in.”