NCC ‘not going to limit’ potential retail options at new Elgin Street HQ: Nussbaum

New NCC headquarters
The NCC"s new headquarters at 80 Elgin St. will include an outdoor plaza for employees.

National Capital Commission CEO Tobi Nussbaum says the organization will consider a range of potential candidates to occupy two commercial spaces in its new headquarters at 80 Elgin St.

The NCC is slated to move from its current main office at 40 Elgin St. to the former British High Commission building just a few doors south in 2025. The Crown corporation, which now pays about $3 million a year to rent space in the Chambers Building at 40 Elgin, bought 80 Elgin three years ago for $25 million in a deal it says will save it money in the long run.

The NCC’s board of directors Thursday approved plans to continue upgrading the 60-year-old former high commission building in preparation for next year’s move. They include replacing the current entry vestibule on Elgin Street, redoing the roof, rehabilitating the exterior granite panels and creating a new plaza and open space for NCC employees on what is now a parking lot on the west side of the building.

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The NCC also wants to create two new commercial spaces on the ground floor, with plans to replace the existing granite panels at the southeast and northeast corners of the building with new storefront glazing and glazed entrance doors on the east facade.

Asked after Thursday’s board meeting what types of tenants the NCC hopes to see in the spaces, Nussbaum said the organization will issue a “transparent” request for proposals from entrepreneurs who wish to pitch their ideas.

“We’re not going to limit what those options are,” he said. “We want to be open to any potential businesses, maybe with a lean towards businesses that really can help activate Elgin Street.”

Designed by British architect Eric Bedford, 80 Elgin housed the British High Commission from 1964 until last January. The high commission relocated to a new building within the Earnscliffe National Historic Site at 140 Sussex Dr., which has served as the official residence of British high commissioners for more than 90 years.

In documents outlining the modernization plan for 80 Elgin, the NCC said the new office will allow it to “present a new face to the National Capital Region and to showcase its public-facing programs.”

It said the ongoing renovations will “dramatically reduce” the building’s carbon footprint and “contribute to a vibrant, urban streetscape and public realm” on Elgin.

LeBreton talks ‘going in right direction’

Meanwhile, Nussbaum said he remains optimistic the NCC will reach a deal with the Ottawa Senators to move the NHL team to a new arena at LeBreton Flats.

While he had no significant updates on the negotiations with new Senators owner Michael Andlauer and the team’s leadership group, Nussbaum told reporters he thinks the talks are “going in the right direction” as the two organizations try to hammer out a lease agreement by the end of September.

“The will is there on both sides – that is clear,” he said. “At the same time, it’s a complex project. We have three more months. I think both sides are committed to continuing to use that period to see if we can come to an agreement.”

In April, Nussbaum told reporters the NCC has a backup ready to go if talks with the Senators fall through, a stance he reiterated on Thursday.

“We’re hopeful that there will be an agreement, but if not, the master concept plan shows that we’ve got a plan B for the development, which includes housing and mixed-use buildings,” Nussbaum said. “Obviously, there’s a huge need for housing in the National Capital Region.”

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