Curtain finally pulled back on LeBreton Flats proposals

The sprawling and comprehensive proposals for LeBreton Flats both feature NHL-calibre arenas, vast public spaces and residential and commercial units.

By Michael Woods and Lucy Scholey

The main difference between the proposals, revealed Tuesday: one group – Rendez Vous LeBreton Group – includes the Ottawa Senators. The other – Devcore Canderel DLS Group – does not.

But the latter group is undeterred.

“Our intention is to, if we win the bid, have discussion with Mr. Melnyk … with respect to the Senators moving downtown,” Daniel Peritz, vice-president of Canderel, said at a technical briefing unveiling the proposals.

“We firmly believe the Senators should be downtown,” Mr. Peritz added. “We are flexible and motivated to see this happen, including welcoming all forms of discussions with the current owner of the Senators.”

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has said he’s not selling the team.

“I can see why someone would try to use this nation-building exercise to get into the hockey business,” Senators president Cyril Leeder said. “Most of us on this team are already in the hockey business.

“We should be really clear, though, that the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats is about much more than hockey."

Illumination LeBreton, the bid by Rendezvous LeBreton Group, which features the Senators, would feature a “Major Event Centre” with an 18,000-seat capacity, and an adjacent public square with room for 28,000 people.

The site would feature five distinct neighbourhoods and 11 distinctive public spaces, including a waterfront promenade and “public art axis.”

It would also include a Sensplex housing two NHL-sized hockey rinks, along with an Abilities Centre, a national training facility for Paralymic athlete.

There would also be an aqueduct, lined with boardwalks on each side, and retail spaces. It would become a skating rink in the winter. The proposal also includes a waterfront promenade, public art axis and “Nations Plaza.”

The Rendez Vous LeBreton proposal also includes an option for a central library at Booth and Albert streets.

Devcore Canderel DLS Group (previously known as Devcore or DCDLS Group), unveiled its 55-acre LeBreton Re-Imagined design.

As the public already knows, there are big names backing this development: Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, Quebec billionaire Andre Desmarais (co-CEO of the Power Corporation of Canada), and Pandion Investments Chairman William J. Sinclair. But what was unknown until Tuesday is that Ottawa’s Mierins family, who owns Ogilvie Realty, is also supporting the project.

Gatineau-based developer Devcore Group and real estate company Canderel are also on board.

An NHL-calibre arena, skate park, library, automotive museum, science and innovation museum, restaurants and shops will all be linked through the “Canadensis Walk” – a Latin word for “indigenous to” or “of Canada” – that will run the entire length of the development.

The project’s price tag is still unknown, but NCC CEO Mark Kristmanson said both developments will be “driven by” the private sector.

Mr. Kristmanson commended the two teams for their “passion and commitment,” and called the proposals “substantive and detailed,”

“We have arrived at a defining moment in the LeBreton Flats story,” he said at the outset of the briefing.

Visitors to the Canadian War Museum on Wednesday can see the two proposals. The NCC is accepting online submissions until Feb. 8.

LeBreton Re-Imagined highlights:

• Automotive museum

• Aquarium: This will house the Ripley’s Aquarium and showcase Canada’s marine environment, including oceans and Great Lakes. An indoor wave pool is also part of the plan.

• Air Pavilion: A simulated skydiving experience where people can jump into a 150 mph vertical wind tunnel.

• Skatepark: The developers are promising “the best skate park in the world,” complete with a sports museum.

• Arena: seating for 18,500 on five levels with three concourses, plus a multidisciplinary entertainment facility.

• Mixed use space: 2,500 residential units, including condos and rental spaces. There will be one million square feet of office space and retail. This will be built in phase one and two of the project from 2017 to 2029.

• Library: This will be designed to look like an open book.

• YMCA and daycare

• French-language public elementary school

• It uses up almost all the available land – the 9.3 hectares, plus 12.3 hectares of optional land space – with 55 acres of property.

• It will generate 25,000 person years of employment

• There will be 10,400 ongoing jobs per year once operational

• 55 per cent of the project will go back to public use on Booth Street to the War Memorial.

This article originally appeared on metronews.ca on Jan. 26.