NCC to develop LeBreton Flats in stages

The National Capital Commission is taking a different approach to LeBreton Flats by offering up pieces of the 21-hectare property for development in stages, but isn't saying if that will necessarily include a new arena.

NHL arena possible but 'not essential,' CEO says

The National Capital Commission's new strategy for developing LeBreton Flats involves carving the area into separate districts. (National Capital Commission)

The National Capital Commission is taking a new approach to LeBreton Flats by offering up pieces of the 21-hectare property for development in stages, but says the do-over might not include an NHL arena.

"It's not essential. It's possible. We're not conditioning the development of this project on an arena or a major event centre," said Tobi Nussbaum, the NCC's new chief executive, during a teleconference Tuesday.

Unlike the previous strategy to redevelop the prime land west of Ottawa's downtown core, this one isn't focused on any single anchor tenant or landmark.

Rather, the NCC is determined to "bring back a vibrant community to the heart of the National Capital Region," according to board chair Marc Seaman.

Starting with Library District

The NCC has laid out a broad plan to carve the LeBreton property into five distinct pieces and sell them over time.

The process would begin with the smallest. a one-hectare "Library District" east of Booth Street.

"It's new, and it's closer to being shovel-ready than other parts of LeBreton Flats," Nussbaum said.

NCC to develop LeBreton Flats in stages, starting with 'library district'

4 years ago
Duration 0:42
Tobi Nussbaum, CEO of the National Capital Commission, says the land will be developed in stages, beginning with a chunk at the eastern end near the site of the new central library and Pimisi transit station.

Development there could be timed to coincide with construction of the new central public library and tied in with the new Pimisi light rail station, Nussbaum said.

The NCC foresees putting that parcel up for proposals in November, with construction to begin by the spring of 2021.

Other districts discussed Tuesday include Pimisi North, Pimisi South, Inlet and Bayview East.

NCC thanks public for its patience

The NCC said it's counting on both the public and the development industry to help decide how the land will be divided, and when each parcel will be sold off.

"We don't have the answers now, but we felt it was important to start the process now, to listen to people," Nussbaum said.

Public consultation will begin in June, he said, along with an analysis of the real estate market. 

Seaman acknowledged the public's patience over the last three years leading up to the failed RendezVous LeBreton plan.

"I want to thank the public for their patience and understanding through this process, and for their shared passion in wanting to see a proper and well-thought-out vision and plan for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats."

Lessons learned

The announcement marks the latest attempt to develop the site, which has sat mostly vacant since the 1960s.

It comes less than a week after the NCC officially spiked the previous plan, a partnership between Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and Trinity Development Group's John Ruddy.

RendezVous Lebreton Group planned to build a new NHL arena and more than 4,000 housing units on the site. However, the partnership faltered under the weight of  bitter, reciprocal lawsuits, and weeks of mediation failed to salvage the plan.

Nussbaum said the NCC is still processing the lessons from that experience, but said it had learned two things.

First, it wants tighter timelines and less time spent negotiating with successful developers.

The NCC also learned not to place the entire property in the hands of any one development group, but to phase in a flexible plan that's better able to respond to fluctuations in the real estate market.

Developers who bid in 2015 will be allowed try again, the NCC confirmed.


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