After more than 40 meetings and 120 hours of negotiations, the National Capital Commission and RendezVous LeBreton Group have officially reached an agreement to transfer ownership of LeBreton Flats, opening the path to redevelop the mostly vacant 21-hectare property just west of downtown.
At the NCC’s board of directors meeting on Thursday, Mark Kristmanson called LeBreton Flats “one of the last great development opportunities” in Ottawa. The promise of the completed project “kept (the NCC) at the table” during many hours of negotiations with RendezVous LeBreton.
The NCC selected the Ottawa Senators-backed group as its preferred proponent in 2016. Speaking to reporters after today’s meeting, Kristmanson said the board approved the principle agreement with a “strong majority vote.”
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Included in that agreement is a centrally located home for the Senators. An 18,000-seat NHL arena and a community centre are major components in the first phase of the project, which is slated to be built from 2018 to 2032. Construction of the second phase will stretch into 2036, while plans for a third phase have been scrapped.
The NCC said both sides have agreed on “fair market value” for the property, but the final price tag will be determined only after the costs of cleaning up contaminated land have been established.
Kristmanson praised Senators president Tom Anselmi for his role in the negotiations, later thanking team owner Eugene Melnyk and project partner John Ruddy of Trinity Development Group as well.
Melnyk says he brought Anselmi into the president’s role last year specifically to spearhead the team’s quest for a downtown arena. Anselmi has a history as a builder, overseeing the construction of the Air Canada Centre and BMO Field in Toronto during his time with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
Mayor Jim Watson also attended a media scrum. Calling it a great day for the city, he said he heartily approved of moving ahead with the RendezVous LeBreton plan.
“If I had a vote, I would’ve voted proudly for this one,” he told reporters.
The two groups will spend the next 18 months establishing a master design plan for the lands. The agreement also requires federal approvals before the plan can move forward.
Shovels could hit dirt on the redevelopment as early as 2019.