NCC Looking to Redevelop LeBreton Flats

NCC Looking to Redevelop LeBreton Flats

In case you did not hear the big news yesterday, the National Capital Commission (NCC) is inviting and encouraging the private sector to submit plans to develop land at LeBreton Flats for the purpose of putting a signature attraction in the area adjacent to the Canadian War Museum.

Via the NCC’s website:

The National Capital Commission (NCC) is seeking innovative proposals for the largest and most significant urban development site in Canada’s Capital. Proponents are invited to imagine a world-class destination, an inspirational place that will demonstrate design excellence and innovation, an attractive place for Canadians and visitors alike.

NCC chief executive Mark Kristmanson added to this vision by explaining, “We are inviting the private sector to reimagine this exceptional site as a destination for all Canadians who visit their capital city.”

The NCC is making 9.3 hectares of land available for redevelopment, but that area could grow to include what the NCC is referring to as “option lands” – another parcel of 12.3 hectares.

The NCC is using a two-stage process to select a successful proponent. Stage 1 consists of the present request for qualifications to qualify a short list of proponents who have extensive relevant development experience, design expertise, and the capacity to undertake and deliver the project.

The shortlisted qualified proponents would then be invited to participate in Stage 2 of the solicitation process, consisting of the request for proposals, to submit a more detailed design, and a financial proposal.

Seeing as how this is an Ottawa Senators blog, you already know where this conversation is heading. Will the Senators be interested in bringing forth a proposal that has the organization building a new arena downtown?

Senators president Cyril Leeder talked openly about the Canadian Tire Centre’s life cycle during an interview last November and he briefly talked about where the Senators were in the process of evaluating their long-term plans.

“It’ll be (the Canadian Tire Centre’s) 18th anniversary in January. There’s a magical number around 25 to 30 (years of age) when the building doesn’t wear out, but you really need to look at it and determine ‘Are you going to put a major reinvestment into it? Or are you going to look at alternatives? Whether you rebuild it next door or look at other locations.

We’re getting pretty close to that window when we start looking at what our options are. If the LRT Plans had come out a few weeks ago and there was a station right at the (Canadian Tire Centre) site in the long-term plan, I don’t think we’d even be considering options. We’d just be looking at ‘How do we work with the facility here and rebuild it in the current location?’ At some point, we’ll have to have that discussion – whether we rebuild here or look at alternative locations.”

When asked whether he would like to see the Senators’ next arena switch to a downtown location, Leeder seemed to have his reservations.

“I don’t know. I mean, there are a lot of factors that have to go into that decision. That wouldn’t be just my decision to make as well. I think that’s something that you’d have to look at as an organization, but I’ve been involved now for 25 years with this team and project and there hasn’t been one person who has come forward to me and say ‘You know, it’d be a good idea to put this building downtown.’ So, I think that’s a good theoretical discussion, but there hasn’t really been a lot of interest from any parties in having that discussion.”

If Leeder didn’t want to tip his hand, it makes sense because of the investments and efforts made to improve the Canadian Tire Centre, its surrounding infrastructure and develop the surrounding land.

 “Yeah, land and who builds the building and who owns it. Those are all considerations you have to review and you couldn’t view any one of those on its own. I think it’s all part of a longer-term or bigger strategy. Would you want to move your building? I don’t really want to get into that debate right now. I don’t think it’s the right time or the place to open a can of worms and say, ‘Gee, should we move the building?’ We’ve been pretty committed to the site and we’ve done a lot of work in the area – a lot of things to try to improve our lot in life here in Kanata and as I said, it’s just been getting better. There’s a lot of development happening in the area. If you look at what we came into here in 1996 and what we have now in 2013, it’s a totally different situation and one that we’re pretty happy with, to be honest.”

However, the organization’s made it abundantly clear that Ottawa has one of the smallest corporate markets in the entire NHL, so with that in mind, maybe it would be in the team’s best long-term interests to build an arena at LeBreton so that it’s more accessible for a greater number of fans and potential ticket buyers, especially since we already know that LeBreton Flats will have an LRT station.

Kristmanson even told the Ottawa Citizen that a downtown hockey arena was an option. “It could include that, but we can imagine other possibilities, as well.”

That can of worms that Leeder didn’t want to open last November is open now, but as an organization that has lost more than $110 million since Eugene Melnyk bought the team in 2003, whether they step up to the table with a proposal remains to be seen.

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has however struck out in last two efforts for major redevelopment around the Canadian Tire Centre. Rather than side with his proposal to bring an MLS team to Kanata, the City of Ottawa opted for OSEG’s redevelopment of Lansdowne Park. There was also last year’s casino issue in which the City sole-sourced the casino proposal process and awarded it to the Rideau Carleton Raceway.

Other News and Notes: 

– Uber has arrived in Ottawa and their first rider was Senators defenceman Cody Ceci. Kid’s a trailblazer.

– Erik Condra and Marc Methot have missed time this preseason because of injuries, but both players were back on the ice this morning.

– Zack Smith doesn’t believe it matters who the next captain of the Ottawa Senators is.

– Speaking of the vacant captaincy, apparently Eugene Melnyk is in town and as Bruce Garrioch mentioned today, apparently Melnyk gets a say in who the next captain of the Senators will be. I wonder how many other owners share that kind of responsibility?

– I don’t understand why anyone would give two flying shits about an EA Sports hockey simulation that uses NHL 15 to project the 2014/15 season standings, but the Senators finished last in the Eastern Conference with 66 points. Only the Calgary Flames had fewer points with 64.

– has the latest head-to-head Corsi stats up from last night’s exhibition game in Winnipeg.

– Speaking of last night’s preseason game, Robin Lehner is reportedly fine after sustaining a bruised hand that ended his night after the first period. Lehner was originally slated to play half of last night’s game.

– Jason York has left TSN 1200 to become TSN‘s regional broadcast colour commentator for their Montreal Canadiens games. Congratulations and best of luck to him in his new role.

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