NCC board endorses LeBreton master plan, names shortlist of developers for library lands

NCC master plan
The NCC approved the concept master plan for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats on Thursday. Image courtesy NCC

The NCC’s board of directors gave the green light Thursday to the final master concept plan for LeBreton Flats and revealed the three groups that have been shortlisted to build out the first major parcel of land at the prime development site west of downtown. 

The agency’s master plan would see 4,000 housing units and nearly a million square feet of retail and office space built over the next 35 years at LeBreton Flats, along with more than 30 acres of parks.

The blueprint calls for four distinct “districts,” including a mixed-use neighbourhood near Albert Street that would be anchored by the future home of the Ottawa Public Library and could also feature a “potential event centre,” according to a 175-page document outlining the plan.

“With purpose and patience, Ottawa will breathe life back into LeBreton Flats,” the report says, calling the master plan proposal “a bold and compelling vision” for the long-neglected property that was once home to the Algonquin Nation and later housed working-class neighbourhoods that were demolished in the 1960s.

The NCC took another big step Thursday toward getting the project off the ground when it unveiled the three groups that will compete to redevelop a 2.7-acre parcel of land on the eastern edge of LeBreton Flats near the future home of the Ottawa Public Library’s main branch.

The agency shortlisted the three finalists from a group of five applicants that submitted bids:

  • Dream LeBreton is a partnership between Toronto’s Dream Asset Management Corp. and Dream Impact Master LP. The design team is led by KPMB Architects and Perkins&Will and also includes Two Row Architect and Purpose Building, with PFS Studio as the landscape architect, EllisDon as the construction manager and Innovation Seven as the Indigenous engagement consultant.
  • One Planet Living LeBreton is a partnership between the Windmill Development Group, Epic Investment Services and Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corp. The group also includes Diamond Schmitt Architects, DTAH Landscape Architects and Ledcor Group.
  • Team Central is a consortium led by Trinity Development Group that also features Hobin Architecture as design lead, Morley Hoppner as construction manager, Ottawa Community Housing as the owner and operator of the affordable housing component and the Good Companions as the owner and operator of seniors’ services.

The NCC says it hopes to announce the winning bidder next January. The agency says a minimum of 600 residential units will be built at the site, of which at least 30 per cent will be designated affordable housing.

CEO Tobi Nussbaum said the remainder of the LeBreton site will be developed over time as market conditions dictate.

The agency’s overall plan for the Flats ​– which is expected to be rolled out in three phases, each lasting a decade or so – proposes about 700,000 square feet of office space and 270,000 square feet of retail space, with towers of up to 40 storeys eyed for the Albert District next to the Pimisi LRT station. 

While a new NHL stadium for the Ottawa Senators was a central component of a previous proposal to redevelop the site that fell apart in 2018 amid legal wrangling, the NCC’s blueprint doesn’t specifically mention a sporting venue in the list of future amenities at LeBreton. 

Instead, a site along Albert Street near Preston is earmarked for a “potential major event centre,” but the NCC notes its plan is “flexible” and could be altered down the road.

LeBreton flats
A portion of the NCC's new vision for LeBreton Flats. Image courtesy NCC

“If a major event centre or other large attraction does not materialize in the future, this site can be developed in the mixed-use format of the rest of the Albert District,” the report says.

“Given the complexity of such a use, the (plan) has been configured such that it neither depends on ​– nor is disrupted by ​– the presence of such a facility.”

Among the centrepieces of the NCC’s overall concept is a “landmark entertainment or music venue, cultural institution or other signature” public venue dubbed LeBreton Place. 

The mixed-use site would be located roughly in the middle of the Flats, north of Albert Street in the Aqueduct District ​​​​– an area the document calls the “core of LeBreton Flats” that would feature waterways and parkland as well as boutiques, restaurants and “creative flexible spaces that could welcome anything from artists’ studios to offices.”

In other news Thursday, the NCC’s board also approved the design for the new $192.9-million facility that will house the main branch of the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada.

The building, which will sit on a vacant plot of land at the intersection of Bronson Avenue and Albert Street, is being designed by Ottawa’s KWC Architects and Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt.