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Montreal Vacant Spaces

Work  ✺  Data  ✺  Geospatial  ✺  Photography

An experimental prototype of a map of vacant spaces I came across walking around neighbourhoods in Montreal (2016).

At the time, Montreal had a very high number of commercial spaces sitting vacant. Most of these were along some of once very popular commercial arteries (St-Denis, St-Laurent).

There are many factors that contributed to so many for rent sign, but a hypothesis was that any major construction undertaken by the city on these streets restricted pedistrian access and made these business unviable. Even though the construction is finished, so many neighboring vacant retail spaces create a dead zone for commerce, and make revitilizing these streets all that more difficult.

For many years I've had a dream of owning a coffee shop or retail space, and have been vicariously living this dream by taking photos of these vacant spaces by pressing my camera against the window in places where there was a crack between the boards or papers used to cover up the windows. I thought I would put these photos to good use by creating a catalogue of places for rent.

I used the Python BeautifulSoup library to crawl real estate listing and parse the HTML to augment the addresses and photos I already had. I then converted this list into a JSON file that could be used to create a KML file that could be consumed by Google Maps.