NCC takes next step toward redeveloping LeBreton library lands

LeBreton pic
A portion of the NCC's new vision for LeBreton Flats. File photo

The National Capital Commission has put the wheels back in motion on its plan to redevelop a prime parcel of land at LeBreton Flats.

The Crown corporation said Tuesday it will launch a request for qualifications to develop a two-and-half-acre site east of the Pimisi LRT station at the end of this month.

The request is meant to determine if there’s a qualified group of bidders to present proposals to develop the property. The NCC originally put the call for proposals to develop the land on hold in late April due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Developing the property just north of Albert Street and east of Booth Street, near the future home of the Ottawa Public Library’s main branch, would mark the first stage of the NCC’s long-term plan to make over the 55-acre LeBreton Flats site. 

Katie Paris, the NCC’s director of major real estate development, said Tuesday the so-called library lands could eventually feature “multiple towers.” She said the NCC is aiming to make the development “one of Canada’s most sustainable communities” with a net-zero carbon emissions target and environmentally friendly amenities, including a network of walking and cycling paths, as well as community arts spaces and other elements that highlight the site’s industrial heritage.

Paris said the plan will call for a “range of housing,” adding the agency plans to work with other federal and municipal partners as well as private-sector developers in an effort to ensure there are affordable options.

“This is not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach,” she said during the NCC’s board of directors meeting.

The request for qualifications will be issued on Oct. 30. The NCC plans to ask qualified bidders to submit formal proposals by early 2021 in the hope of choosing a developer before the end of next year. If all goes according to schedule, construction could begin in 2022, Paris said.

The LeBreton project is expected to create more than 1,700 construction jobs and contribute $13.7 million a year in additional property taxes to the city, she added.

The agency’s latest attempt to redevelop LeBreton Flats comes after the previous consortium that had been chosen to lead the project fell apart amid legal wrangling. 

The RendezVous LeBreton Group, a partnership led by Trinity Development Group and Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, collapsed in late 2018 after Melynk’s Capital Sports Management announced it was suing Trinity and executive chairman John Ruddy for $700 million, citing conflicts of interest related to other Trinity projects near LeBreton Flats. Trinity later launched a $1-billion countersuit against Melnyk and Capital Sports Management.