LeBreton runner-up says it's still ready to roll

The group that finished second to the disentegrating RendezVous LeBreton bid to bring an NHL arena to downtown Ottawa says it's still ready and willing to take over the project.

DCDLS placed 2nd to Senators-backed RendezVous LeBreton bid, now in tatters

DCDLS sets aside land in its proposed redevelopment for a new 18,500-seat arena integrated into the Bayview light rail station. Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said in 2015 he's not interested in seeing his team play in someone else's arena. (image supplied by Devcore, Canderel, DLS Group)

The group that finished second to the disentegrating RendezVous LeBreton bid to bring an NHL arena to downtown Ottawa says it's still ready and willing to take over the project.

In early 2016, The Devcore Canderel DLS (DCDLS) Group made it through to the final stages of the bidding process with its plan for a linear park, skateboarding pavilion, aquarium, outdoor event space and 18,500-seat arena.

DCDLS lost the bid in April 2016, and in January the National Capital Commission signed an agreement in principle with RendezVous, a partnership between the Ottawa Senators and Trinity Development Group.

Now, with the spectacular collapse of that bid, including Melnyk's $700-million lawsuit against partner John Ruddy and others, DCDLS has announced it wants back in. 

The Quebec-based consortium has requested a meeting with the NCC, but has yet to hear back. The NCC is not commenting on the request.

DCDLS partners still 'united'

In a news release issued late Sunday night, the president of developer Devcore Group, Jean-Pierre Poulin, said the team is still ready to step back in and build if the NCC so chooses at its January meeting.

"We do not believe Ottawa or Canada should be held hostage one day longer," Poulin stated.

That team includes such deep-pocketed partners as Power Corporation's André Desmarais, JDS Uniphase founder Bill Sinclair,and Guy Laliberté, who sold his majority stake in Cirque du Soleil in 2015.

We believe our duty would be to make this project NHL-ready.- Jean-Pierre Poulin, president of Devcore Group

"We have a very solid team and [are] all unified. We have shovel in hand and [are] ready to roll," Poulin told CBC News.

But, the DCDLS bid wouldn't be the same one the consortium presented in 2016.

DCDLS would first want to see what infrastructure and engineering work has been done for Rendezvous LeBreton Group since 2016, and would see how it might build on that.

"It's not our intention to start from scratch," Poulin said.

Poulin also said the 4,000 condo or apartment units proposed by Rendezvous LeBreton seemed too dense; DCDLS would be more interested in building the 2,000 units it proposed in 2016 because that's what the market can absord, he said.

Devcore president Jean-Pierre Poulin, right, with other members of the DCDLS consortium in April 2016, says the group remains 'united' and wants to meet with the NCC about next steps at LeBreton Flats. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Arena still a go

DCDLS would also set aside land for an arena, much like it proposed in 2016. Back then, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said his team would not play at LeBreton Flats if DCDLS won the bid. 

"The place holder is there, so it's open. We believe our duty would be to make this project NHL-ready," Poulin said.

Poulin said DCDLS has not spoken with either Melnyk or the National Hockey League.

Devcore, a Gatineau-based builder, could not afford to own an NHL team, said Poulin, who called NHL ownership a "billionaires' game."

While his partners might have those billions, Poulin said DCDLS respects that the Sens are not for sale.

"Mr. Melnyk was clear on the fact that he does not want to sell the team, and we respect that."

Rather than a single anchor at a redeveloped LeBreton Flats, the Devcore, Canderel and DLS Group envisioned a collection of museums and attractions that would together create a destination in the National Capital Region. (Image supplied by Devcore, Canderel and DLS Group)

NCC not commenting

DCDLS said it reached out to the NCC last week to let it know it's still willing and able to resurrect its plans, and has not heard back.

The NCC has not issued a public response and declined comment on Monday.

Both during and after its meeting last month, when the RendezVous LeBreton issues came to light, NCC leadership has mused it may need to do some sort of restart of the process.

NCC CEO Mark Kristmanson has said that within the current procurement process, Melnyk's Capital Sports Management Inc. or Trinity Development Group could regroup, reform or bring in new partners, but had to mutually agree to any new arrangement.

Kristmanson has also said the board could move on to "a new solution and new ideas" if the Rendezvous LeBreton Group partnership can't resolve its differences. 

But the NCC has said the current process doesn't allow it to go back to DCDLS's bid.