LeBreton runner-up DCDLS claims NCC has ‘legal obligation’ to pick up development talks

LeBreton
A rendering of Devcore Canderel DLS's original proposal for LeBreton Flats.

With the first pick out of the picture to redevelop LeBreton Flats, second-place Devcore Canderel DLS is arguing the National Capital Commission is legally obligated to enter into negotiations with the runner-up group in the original procurement process.

In a statement released Thursday evening, DCDLS said it has “firm conviction” that under the terms of the NCC’s original request for proposals to develop LeBreton Flats, the Crown corporation has the “legal obligation” to now enter into negotiations with DCDLS as the only other qualified bidder. If the NCC were to start the bidding process anew, DCDLS argues its rights in the procurement process would be infringed.

The original RFP document states that when the NCC has identified the two highest-ranked bidders for the redevelopment, it may – “at its sole discretion” – begin talks with the preferred proponent. Upon failure of those initial talks, it would then “enter into negotiations with the second-highest ranked proponent.”

DCDLS first made public its willingness to pick up talks with the NCC earlier this month as the partnership between preferred proponents Trinity Development Group and Eugene Melnyk’s Capital Sports Management – collectively, RendezVous LeBreton – showed signs of deteriorating. In light of the two partners’ lawsuits launched against one another in the past few weeks, the NCC announced earlier this week that it was terminating negotiations with RendezVous LeBreton.

DCDLS says in its release that restarting a new bid process would be impractical for a variety of reasons. Since RendezVous and DCDLS were the sole qualified bidders in the original procurement, the group infers there would be little interest from other parties in a new bid process. Starting from square one would also be more costly and push the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats back many more years.

The consortium, which is backed by Quebec billionaires André Desmarais and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, says that it would be flexible in the final shape of the development should the NCC decide to start negotiations with the runner-up.

It concedes that some elements of its original proposal – featuring a new central library, a mix of 2,500 condo and rental units, an automotive museum, a skate park and NHL arena – may have been off the mark and that it would be willing to modify its vision and even incorporate elements of RendezVous LeBreton’s design. The group notes that the “overwhelming portion of our business plan … is not reliant on condominium sales” – a key source of conflict in the RendezVous LeBreton partnership.

DCDLS went as far as suggesting that it could work with one or both of the RendezVous partners on the project. It notes that its original proposal included plans for an arena and it would be willing to negotiate terms for a long-term tenant – a clear reference to Melnyk’s Ottawa Senators.

In an offer to Trinity earlier this week, Melnyk said he’d be open to letting the Ottawa Senators play in another owner’s arena if CSMI didn’t have to finance the development.

DCDLS said it’s looking forward to hearing the NCC’s decision at its January board meeting, at which point the land owner will unveil its plans for the “next steps” of the LeBreton Flats redevelopment.