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Troubles in Rendezvous LeBreton

November 24, 2018 @ 13:27 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General

According to a CBC Ottawa story yesterday morning, the Rendezvous LeBreton consortium whose proposal was selected for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats is in trouble. I am not surprised, and it seems I’m not alone.

Back in January 2016, the National Capital Commission announced two development proposals that were moving on to the next step in the evaluation process to redevelop LeBreton Flats. The proposals were put forward by two consortia: Canadensis: LeBreton Re-imagined by Devcore, Canderel and DLS Group, and Illumination LeBreton by RendezVous LeBreton Group, which is led by Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and Trinity Development Group’s John Ruddy.

The Illumination LeBreton proposal was ultimately selected. Personally, I thought at the time that was the wrong decision, something I still believe today. 

As I wrote at the time, the goal of Illumination LeBreton seemed to be a dense landuse that would provide money to pay for the cost of a new NHL arena, while Canadensis: LeBreton was much more about public-use spaces. True, it also had a new arena in it, but things didn’t hinge on it. As designed, Canadensis saw the arena appearing later in the development. If the arena wasn’t built, the rest of the development would still be able to stand on its own.

Sadly, Canadensis wasn’t the project selected to go ahead. 

Three years later, we are learning that there’s a disagreement between the partners in the Rendezvous LeBreton Group. I heard on the radio this morning that Melnyk is suing his partner Ruddy and Graham Bird, the project manager, along with their companies, for $700 million. The suit revolves around a project at 900 Albert Street belonging to Trinity Development Group (Ruddy’s company). The 65-storey condo tower, which is across the street from LeBreton Flats, will be ready sooner than Illumination LeBreton, meaning that it will probably vacuum up all the potential buyers for condo units in the LeBreton Flats development.

This doesn’t bode well for Illumination LeBreton. I have mixed feelings about this, but mostly I’m coming down on the side that maybe this gives us a second chance to come up with a better development plan for the area.

If this project falls through, I think the NCC should return to the Canadensis proposal and see if Devcore, Canderel and DLS Group would be prepared to go forward with their project, possibly with some tweaking to address some of the original concerns that resulted it in not being chosen originally. Canadensis: LeBreton Re-imagined has vision and public-use spaces, rather than being focused on maximizing the revenue per square metre. It would be much more of a tourism draw than a hockey arena.

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