NCC talks with Melnyk’s RendezVous group on LeBreton Flats project move ahead
November 28th, 2016
Ottawa residents will have to wait at least another year to find out whether they can look forward to watching the Ottawa Senators play in a new downtown arena.
After hearing that enough progress has been made in talks with Eugene Melnyk’s RendezVous LeBreton group to designate it as the preferred proponent to develop LeBreton Flats, the National Capital Commission’s board agreed Thursday to begin formal negotiations.
All board members voted in favour other than Victor Brunette, who said he didn’t have “all the information I need” to make an informed decision and abstained.
NCC official Marco Zanetti said the agency’s negotiating team met 22 times over the past six months with RendezVous officials to resolve preliminary issues.
Those issues included financial terms, determination of the market value of the lands, remediation of contaminated soil, phasing and ownership of public realm components and universal accessibility, Zanetti said.
Based on responses received from RendezVous on Oct. 31, Zanetti said he was “cautiously optimistic” that a development agreement was possible.
Because the LeBreton redevelopment remains an open procurement process subject to commercial confidentiality, the NCC released no further details of its talks with the RendezVous group.
Zanetti said it would take at least another year to negotiate a deal. Major issues remain to be resolved and Zanetti stressed that awarding RendezVous preferred proponent status did not signify acceptance of the terms in documents submitted by RendezVous last month.
Board member Aditya Jha underlined that point. “Our decision to move forward should not send the message that all was satisfactory” with the RendezVous group’s proposal, he said.
But some board members were more positive. “I think the glass is half-full,” said trustee Kay Stanley, adding that she “would prefer it to be a little fuller.”
Ottawa residents have been waiting 52 years for something to happen on LeBreton Flats, Stanley said. Based on the talks with RendezVous, “It looks like we’re getting closer to it.”
If an agreement is ultimately reached, it would be submitted to the NCC board for approval, most likely in 2018.
RendezVous LeBreton, a joint venture of the Senators Sports & Entertainment and Trinity Development, won the right to negotiate a development agreement for 21 hectares of LeBreton Flats last April, beating out a competing proposal from the Devcore Canderel DLS group.
In a statement Thursday, Melnyk thanked the NCC and said its decision “is the culmination of thousands of hours of work by a 135-member expert team and countless others who shared our vision for LeBreton Flats.”
In light of the fact that the NCC will be providing RendezVous with “additional important information on the process,” Melnyk had no further comment.
The RendezVous proposal includes three public anchor uses: A “major event centre” that would become the Ottawa Senators’ new home; a sports and recreation community centre open to able-bodied and disabled users; and a dual-rink Sensplex.
The development plan envisions five distinct neighbourhoods, to be built in three phases over two decades or more, along with a restored heritage aqueduct lined with cafés and shops.
The proposal calls for 4,400 residential units, significant office space and stores. When fully developed, as many as 7,000 people would live there, with easy access to two stations along the city’s new Confederation LRT line, which will open in 2018.
The RendezVous group has pledged to make 25 per cent of the residential units affordable for those with modest incomes and has recruited the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corp., the city’s largest non-profit housing organization, to deliver on that promise.
If the NCC approves a development agreement, it will be submitted to the federal government for approval. Once the government signs off, the project will shift to the municipal arena in 2018 or 2019 for the necessary official plan and zoning amendments.
That will also be the next time that citizens have a chance to make their views known about the development.
Courtesy of The Ottawa Citizen, Don Butler
Published on: November 24, 2016 | Last Updated: November 25, 2016 5:39 PM EST