Warning signs are taped to the south door of the federal property, along with a provincial Ministry of Labour notice that names Great-West Life and Ron Engineering as leading the project to turn the building and adjacent parking lot into a 17-storey office tower.
The same document says work officially began April 1 and is anticipated to last 36 months.
Along with asbestos, other hazardous materials including lead, mercury, silica and PCBs will have to be removed, according to a federal environmental screening report prepared by Jacques Whitford Stantec Ltd.
The same document said the Lorne Building had to be torn down because it is “underutilised, in poor condition and is slowly sinking into the ground.”
OBJ first reported in early March that GWL and Ottawa-based developer and landlord Arnon Corp. were the low bidders on the project. The Vered family manages both Arnon and its associated construction firm, Ron Engineering.
The property is to be redeveloped under a “lease-purchase approach,” whereby the private-sector proponent designs, constructs, finances and manages the building. Public Works continues to own the site and will lease it to the proponent for 25 years, plus the allotted time for demolition and construction.
The developer, in turn, will sublease the space back to Public Works.
The new building, which will house the Department of Finance and Treasury Board, will be 646,000 square feet, including the ground-level retail space.
By comparison, the new Export Development Canada headquarters building, under construction at O’Connor and Slater streets and expected to be completed by the end of this year, is 18 storeys and 520,000 square feet.
Various officials at the private-sector companies involved in the Lorne Building redevelopment declined to comment on the project.
Public Works issued a press release last week that confirmed GWL as the successful bidder and said the project will create 625 jobs.
Even though a contract was awarded in March, the government has failed to respond to repeated OBJ requests over the last two months to disclose the cost of the project.