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NCC taking phased approach to LeBreton Flats development as it moves on from failed bid

NCC will ‘do things differently’ as it tries again with LeBreton Flats, CEO says
Tobi Nussbaum, CEO of the National Capital Commission, said on Thursday the agency sees opportunities to "do things differently" as it moves forward with the LeBreton Flats development, including building up the site in phases and perhaps with multiple proponents as opposed to a single one.

The government of Canada is once again trying to offload billions of dollars worth of Crown land next to Parliament Hill that has remained virtually empty since the 1960s.

The National Capital Commission will issue a new call for proposals to develop the LeBreton Flats area of Ottawa after a former redevelopment plan, which featured a new arena for the Ottawa Senators, ended in failed mediation and lawsuits.

READ MORE: Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson disappointed with Senators owner in LeBreton Flats dispute (Feb. 27, 2019)

The federal agency says a new vision for the 22-hectare site on the Ottawa River will include the potential for a new “major events centre” — but the centre might not include the Ottawa Senators.

“We recognize that we need to move ahead with this project regardless if there is a major events centre or an arena there,” National Capital Commission CEO Tobi Nussbaum told reporters Thursday.

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“This is an important site and we feel the conditions are such that we can succeed without (an arena). That said, we’ve learned that there were some wonderful capital-building elements that we saw in the previous process, and we’re determined to maintain that sense of vision, of ambition, of boldness.”

WATCH: NCC says it will consult with public on new plan for LeBreton Flats
NCC says it will consult with public on new plan for LeBreton Flats
NCC says it will consult with public on new plan for LeBreton Flats

The Ottawa Senators’ owner, Eugene Melnyk, had joined with land developer John Ruddy to come up with a $4.1-billion plan for the federal land that included a new hockey arena, but the partnership soured and finally ended last week after weeks of mediation talks led by a retired judge.

Both partners have launched lawsuits against one another, claiming over $1.7 billion in damages between them.

Nussbaum said the National Capital Commission remains committed to developing LeBreton Flats despite the problems that have plagued the project thus far. This time, the process will include a phased approach, beginning with certain parcels of land, and tighter timelines for negotiations.

WATCH: NCC will start LeBreton Flats development with site near new central library, CEO says
NCC will start LeBreton Flats development with site near new central library, CEO says
NCC will start LeBreton Flats development with site near new central library, CEO says

Once an updated overall concept plan has been drawn up, which will include public input, an initial request for proposals will be launched for a one-hectare site adjacent to the future location of a central library for the city, which also includes space for Library and Archives Canada.

As it moves forward with the development of LeBreton Flats, the National Capital Commission (NCC) says it plans to build up the massive site in stages, starting with the “Library District.” That parcel of land is near where Ottawa’s new central library will be located and the Pimisi transit station.
As it moves forward with the development of LeBreton Flats, the National Capital Commission (NCC) says it plans to build up the massive site in stages, starting with the “Library District.” That parcel of land is near where Ottawa’s new central library will be located and the Pimisi transit station. National Capital Commission

The hope is to see a development that will include a mix of residential, commercial and cultural elements that will be guided by market decisions, said National Capital Commission board chair Marc Seaman.

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“The board has remained steadfast in its commitment to the redevelopment of these lands and to bring back a vibrant community to the heart of the National Capital region.”

READ MORE: Ottawa Coun. Tobi Nussbaum named new CEO of NCC (Dec. 13, 2018)

LeBreton Flats was a working-class and industrial neighbourhood until the federal government expropriated and razed it as an eyesore in the 1960s. Plans to build a major government complex there never came to fruition. It now includes the Canadian War Museum and a handful of condominium buildings but multiple redevelopment schemes have foundered.

A timeline of how the NCC plans to proceed with the development of LeBreton Flats, announced on Thursday, March 7, 2019. The former plan for the project — led by Trinity Development and the owner of the Ottawa Senators — ended in failed mediation and lawsuits.
A timeline of how the NCC plans to proceed with the development of LeBreton Flats, announced on Thursday, March 7, 2019. The former plan for the project — led by Trinity Development and the owner of the Ottawa Senators — ended in failed mediation and lawsuits. National Capital Commission