NCC gives ‘dysfunctional’ RendezVous LeBreton partners January do-or-die deadline

LeBreton Flats
A rendering of RendezVous LeBreton's pitch for the vacant land owned by the NCC.

“Unresolved issues” within the consortium tapped to redevelop LeBreton Flats have pushed the National Capital Commission’s board to set a January ultimatum for RendezVous LeBreton: “Get your act together” or the NCC will move on.

The NCC board of directors passed a proposal during its meeting on Thursday to put the partners behind preferred proponent RendezVous LeBreton – comprised of John Ruddy’s Trinity Development Group and Senators Sports and Entertainment team owner Eugene Melnyk – under a January deadline to unite on the project or else the Crown corporation will restart the process.

Negotiations between the NCC and RendezVous LeBreton – the commission’s preferred proponent to redevelop the long-vacant swath of land west of the downtown core with residential units, public spaces and a new arena for the Ottawa Senators – have been ongoing since November 2016. Last January the NCC announced it had established an agreement in principle to transfer the land to the development group.

RendezVous informed the NCC on Nov. 8 that “unresolved issues” in the partnership have prevented the group from moving forward on a master development agreement that was slated for completion in June 2019.

Details about the exact nature of the partners’ issues were not disclosed at the board meeting, but in a media scrum following the session NCC chief executive Mark Kristmanson said the two parties could not agree on proposed changes to the group’s corporate structure. Mayor Jim Watson said in that press conference that he’s seen signs of a strained relationship between Ruddy and Melnyk in his interactions with the men.

“It has been a challenging relationship that I have witnessed. My hope is that they come together and get their act together and bring forward a corporate governance structure that makes sense and is workable so that we can break ground on this project and not be constantly mediating between the two partners,” he said.

“We cannot have a dysfunctional partnership construct and build this site over the next 10 to 20 years. It has to be workable.”

If these issues are not resolved by the NCC’s January board meeting, the federal landowner can opt to end its current negotiations with RendezVous and begin the process anew. Whether that means a new request for proposals, a redefined agreement with one or both of the groups within RendezVous LeBreton or an unknown option remains to be seen.

Kristmanson declined to give details about what would come next should the group fail to meet the January deadline, but did note that the NCC was no longer in any negotiations with the other group that proposed a vision for LeBreton Flats, Devcore Canderel DLS.