A serial entrepreneur wants to set up an ecological industrial park in the Montreal region.

The Marimac company, chaired by Paul Nassar, has founded a joint venture with the French Tellos, an expert in ecological and environmental infrastructure. The two partners, looking for industrial land with an area of ​​750,000 to 930,000 m⁠2, want to settle in Terrebonne. Discussions have taken place with the municipal administration.

Mr. Nassar has owned the Hart chain of stores since 2015.

The joint venture looks favorably on Terrebonne because there is a pool of talent nearby, the presence of telecommunications networks and the availability of land.

In 2021, the City of Terrebonne purchased two lots of 1.6 million square meters in total in the vicinity of the Lachenaie landfill site from Enviro Connexions. The goal was to develop the eighth industrial park in the city, a park with an economic and ecological vocation.

“We are trying to demonstrate to the City of Terrebonne that Tellos and we are the right group to develop this industrial park because of the expertise of Tellos”, we say at Marimac.

Existing for about forty years, the Tellos group recently set up the Axioparc industrial eco-park, near Strasbourg, in Alsace. Three other parks are under construction in France.

The Axioparc model would be adapted to Terrebonne. Among other features, there is a proprietary heating network, powered by a biomass boiler room, a 25 MW photovoltaic (solar energy) park on the ground and on the roofs, and a green hydrogen production station to meet the heavy transport needs of tomorrow.

“An industrial park has a lifespan of 30 years and more,” said Nicolas Carboni, CEO of Tellos, on the phone.

“We are convinced that, in a 10 to 20 year horizon, the ability to provide green hydrogen for road transport will be a competitive advantage for an area of ​​activity,” continues Mr. Carboni.

The aim of this energy sobriety is to reduce the carbon impact of the industrial zone.

At the Axioparc, Tellos has also dedicated a third of the surfaces to green spaces and relaxation areas, essential elements, according to the group, to make the area pleasant living spaces.

According to the Marimac/Tellos plans, a small part of the future Terrebonne ecopark would be reserved for the construction of a pillow factory, owned by Marimac. “The cost of transportation from China and the changing workforce there means we want to build an automated factory here to supply the United States and Canada,” says Paul Nassar.

The industrial park would not necessarily focus on traditional manufacturing, however. “The City wants to divide the park into three parts,” says Marimac, without being able to say more.

On the Terrebonne side, we confirm the holding of two meetings with Tellos, the last in May 2023 with the municipal department of economic development. The goal “was to learn about the offer of Tellos concerning this space with an ecological economic vocation”, explains one at the town hall.

In the same email, Terrebonne indicated that the preferred scenario for the moment is for the City to remain in charge of the development of this project. The latter is currently in planning. Of the 1.6 million square meters, the City wants to devote 650,000 square meters to the future industrial park. “For the residual area, the City of Terrebonne wishes to maintain wetlands and part of the forest cover present on the site,” she says.

The pre-project and planning phase should be completed by the end of the year. The design phase should begin in 2024, while the site should host its first projects by 2026.

Unknown to the public, Mr. Nassar runs his many businesses from the shadows. He bought the Hart chain of stores for 2.7 million in 2015. Since its acquisition, the chain of stores has grown from 61 to 138 stores. “Within three years, we aim to have 200 stores,” says Nassar. Hart has just had a 56,000 m⁠2 distribution center built in Beauharnois. Mr. Nassar also owns the Maison en gros and Méga Meubles brands and operates the companies Linencorp, Marimac and Cycle Babac. He is considering acquiring two chains of 50 stores or less currently. The businessman owns real estate worth tens of millions, wrote Le Journal de Montréal.