The second-place bidder for the original $4 billion Ottawa LeBreton Flats development initiative has been invited to the table as mediation talks between original finalist’s warring partners get under-way.
The Devcore Canderel DLS (DCDLS) team has been invited to join the talks with RendezVous Lebreton, a partnership between Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and Trinity Development’s John Ruddy. Former Ontario chief justice Warren Winkler is overseeing the discussions.
The federal government’s National Capital Commission (NCC), which owns the land, has extended its termination notice until Feb. 28, giving a bit of time for Winkler and the parties to work out a solution for what had turned into a multi-million dollar legal battle between the original partners.
The NCC had originally approved the RendezVous Lebreton proposal including a new NHL arena and 4,000 residential units after an intense public competition that originally had four competitors – narrowed down to the two finalists. In 2016, RendezVous Lebreton won the right to enter into final negotiations with the NCC to develop the empty land near the Canadian War Museum.
However, while DCDLS was benched, it wasn’t completely eliminated from the game – the NCC said it could call on the developer to rejoin the project if negotiations with RendezVous Lebreton faltered. And, after many months of silence, it received the call in January to join the talks.
In 2015/2016, DCDLS offered a proposal with less housing than RendezVous, but more public amenities and entertainment venues, such as a new central public library, a skate park, a Ripley’s Aquarium and a beer museum. The City of Ottawa later set its own site for the central library. The DCDLS plans included a sports arena, but the Ottawa Senators – in partnership with Trinity with RendezVous – dismissed the competitor’s proposals out of hand.
DCDLS’s central vision included The Canadensis Walk, a botanical garden along the property’s northern border nearest the Ottawa River.
DCDLS has said it would be willing to merge the best of both of its and RendezVous LeBreton’s proposals. (Other DCDLS partners include Montreal billionaires André Demarais of Power Corp. and Cirque de Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, as well as Ottawa’s William Sinclair, co-founder of JDS Uniphase). “We will meld the best of (RendezVous’s) work into the best of ours so as to produce an extraordinary development,” CBC quoted DCDLS as saying.
The new mediation deadline will arrive after Tobi Nussbaum, currently still a city councillor, takes over as the NCC’s CEO from Mark Kristmanson.
Meanwhile, the Senators Eugene Melynk has indicated he is willing to take a smaller role in the partnership. In December, he proposed forgoing all of the commercial development revenue in exchange for Trinity building the arena. It is possible that, in the end, DCDLS will fund the arena’s construction, CBC reported.