A strong desire to create a community built around outdoors recreation and access to nature led to the development of Domaine Johannsen, a "passion project" on Quebec’s Mont-Tremblant.
The community is being co-developed by a partnership between Anna-Isabelle Morency-Botello, the general manager of Denstays, a short-term rental company based in Montreal; Louis-Philippe Therrien, the CEO of Denstays; and brothers Tyler Harden and Chris Harden, the co-CEOs of The Harden Group.
Buyers purchase a one- to four-acre plot on which to site a home with their choice of builder, a purchasing model designed to appeal to “everyone.”
The four partners, who also own secondary residences at Domaine Johannsen, founded the community based on their love for skiing and the Mont-Tremblant region, Chris Harden told RENX Homes in an interview.
“I think this was a project where we were able to combine our passion for the region, our passion for skiing. We were able to find a situation whereby we could do a project with close friends who are part of our tightest-knit network of friends,” he said.
Sharing an “amazing land”
Morency-Botello, who is married to Therrien, provided the spark for the community when the two took an interest in land around Mont-Tremblant in 2020. Her family visited Mont-Tremblant every weekend to ski, hike or bike, and Denstays has rental units in Mont-Tremblant.
“We wanted to find a place to build a project for us and in order to build a community with people that are sharing the same values as us,” she told RENX Homes.
The 193 acres of “amazing land” Morency-Botello found consists of forests and vistas of the mountainous region.
In 2021, Morency-Botello made an offer to the Harden brothers, with whom they were well acquainted due to their work together in support of a mental health organization. The Hardens saw the potential and jumped on board.
Chris and Tyler Harden are the third-generation leadership of the Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que.-based company, which originated as a retail jeweller in 1949 and entered real estate sector in the 1980s. It is now a fully integrated developer, builder, property management and leasing firm.
The partners negotiated with the City of Tremblant, then began selling lots in October 2022. So far, 30 out of 54 lots have been sold.
Morency-Botello and Therrien handle operations and branding, while the brothers bring on ideas and contacts to help smooth the process, Harden said.
“I think the city was open to our project considering the fact we’re going to be living there, we’re there to build a project that will have prosperity and be adapted to the community. We’re building a community that is eco-responsible. I think that was an opening for that,” Morency-Botello said.
Thirty per cent of the project will be reserved for forest space, which will hold multi-functional tracks. The wetlands in the community will be evaluated weekly to ensure the health of the ecosystem. The partners expect homebuilders to respect sustainable design principles.
Tremblant is also changing. Harden noted it is becoming a year-round community as opposed to a seasonal destination, with more people interested in living there full-time. The lack of “unique homes” set in a forest indicated to the partners there was a niche that could be filled.
The Domaine Johannsen community
At Domaine Johannsen lots are purchased by the buyer, who can select their homebuilder and have five years to complete the home. Prices for lots will range from $89,000 to $350,000, according to Harden.
Homes can be built as small as 1,200 square feet to as large as Tremblant permits, he added.
An architectural guideline around a Nordic aesthetic that recommends the use of natural materials and natural light will direct homebuilders, so there is cohesion in the community. Harden said plot purchasers will be encouraged to pay attention to the sourcing of materials, such as using recycled materials.
Though the partners cannot enforce their ideas on anyone, Harden said he hopes to share a vision and help homeowners on green construction. The partners have been asked for a list of recommended builders, architects and suppliers, so Harden can steer them toward a “green touch.”
Domaine Johannsen is aimed at families, but Morency-Botello said professionals between their mid-30s to mid-50s from Montreal, Gatineau and the Laurentians have been lured by the prospect of outdoors living centred around community.
Groceries, retail and services will be a few minutes away at Saint-Jovite, referred to as downtown Mont-Tremblant.
Mont-Tremblant Ski Resort is 12 kilometres from Domaine Johannsen for the avid skier or snowboarder, with other active living options like mountain biking or hiking also popular in the community.
Harden’s residential focus
Domaine Johannsen is an atypical project for the Harden Group, which has a growing multiresidential portfolio.
The majority of Harden Group’s residential projects come from the redevelopment of commercial properties – buildings from the 1970s to 1980s that do not meet current market demand but are often located in “great locations in communities,” Harden said.
Harden Group is involved in developing several residential projects in Quebec including the 44-storey tower Solstice in Montreal, the Avenue Avenir development site in Vaudreuil-Dorion, and the rental condo project Quartier V in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.
Most of Harden Group’s work is and will continue to be multiresidential buildings with some condominium projects sprinkled in, he added.