Hockey Great Serge Savard and Partners Buy Le Mirage Golf Club From Singer Céline Dion
Hall of Fame Canadiens Player Has Been an Active Real Estate Investor
Le Mirage golf club was bought by a group that includes hockey legend Serge Savard. (Messier, Savard & Associés)
Legendary Quebec singer Céline Dion has sold one of the Montreal area's most renowned golf clubs to a group of real estate investors headed up by Hall of Fame hockey player Serge Savard.
Savard is part of a group including fellow Canadiens alumni and retired goalie José Théodore that purchased the Le Mirage golf club in Terrebonne about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Montreal. It includes two 18-hole courses and event facilities.
"The deal came up about six to eight months ago when we found out [Dion] was going to sell the complex," Savard told CoStar News in an interview.
NHL Hall of Famer Serge Savard is part of a group that purchased the Le Mirage golf club in Terrebonne, Quebec. (Getty Images)
Named one of 100 greatest hockey players of all time in 2017 by NHL.com, the 74-year-old Savard may have surpassed his career on the ice with his career in the real estate field with Messier, Savard & Associés, which has a portfolio he estimates at $100 million.
The 52-year-old Dion, who has become almost as well known for her shows in Las Vegas, bought the course 23 years ago with her now late husband, René. No terms were disclosed in the sale, but Dion will stay on as a partner.
"The Mirage holds a very special place in my heart," Dion said in a video statement.
Savard's company, which includes president Mario Messier, has a broad array of properties from residential to commercial to hotel properties and, at one point, owned the Marriott Château Champlain Hotel in Montreal.
A fourth partner in addition to Savard, Messier and Theodore is Charles-Félix Messier, who heads up developments and investments at the firm.
"We've been very, very active in real estate. At one point, we had a complex in Cuba," said Savard, who started investing in real estate when he was 23 years old playing in the NHL, which he retired from in 1983 but later returned to as general manager with the Canadiens.
"When I was 28 years old, I owned 128 apartment units," said Savard, who noted his highest annual salary in the NHL was $200,000. "There wasn't the same money in those days."
On the Mirage, Savard said there isn't as much money to be made in golf as there used to be, "but if you buy at the right price," you can make money.
This is the first golf course for Savard, who loves the game even with a 15 handicap. "I was never much of golfer before I got older," he said.
No longer working 9 to 5, and living in South Carolina, Savard has seen it all in real estate but says COVID-19 could be different.
"When we bought Marriott Château Champlain Hotel, nobody wanted a hotel," said Savard, noting that eventually changed. "But people are going away from the big centres like Montreal and Toronto. If you go to the suburbs, it's not the same. You look at what's happening in Montreal, and they are building an electric train [to the suburbs], and it's growing fast because of it. Everybody wants to move out of town in Montreal and pick the North and South Shore."
A recent report from JLL noted Montreal was coming off a record year that saw its investment market hit nearly $9 billion in 2019, almost doubling the previous record.
"So far this year, the market is showing its resilience with over $2.8 billion in investment volume halfway through the year," said JLL,"pointing out Montreal was the hardest hit Canadian city in the pandemic, with an early February school break and strong connections to European countries that were highly infected.
But long term Savard said Quebec's economic story is not about to slow down.
"Montreal has been a great location. It got hurt in the 1980s because of the referendum. We lost all the head offices moving to Toronto. It hurt Montreal. Now companies are moving back," said Savard. "And it's just a lot cheaper for a company to rent than in Montreal."
The strength of the Quebec economy, relative to other areas, could even create an opportunity for sports teams to move back, he said.
Savard said sports had a great run the past 20 years as franchises doubled and tripled in price.
"Unless COVID gets resolved somehow, they will lose a ton of money," said Savard, who thinks weaker franchises could disappear or move. "Quebec City [whose team moved to Denver in 1995] has a better chance now for [a hockey team to relocate there]. Montreal lost its baseball team. They were close to getting half of Tampa Bay's games."
At the same time, Savard said COVID-19 could be a "game changer" as people move from downtown cores.
"There are a lot of working people from home, and they might continue to work from home even after COVID because companies realize the people are still producing pretty good."
His company owns a lot of land in the suburbs on the South Shore, and Savard said he hadn't seen demand for houses in the suburbs like he sees today.
"I had eight offers in one week, and one of the buyers just gave me $10,000 to make sure he gets it," Savard said about a low-rise home he just sold.