The director of Building LeBreton, a 71-acre redevelopment property bordering downtown Ottawa, is in Toronto today to lay out the vision for the site at Canada’s largest virtual and in-person development industry gathering.
Katie Paris will also offer attendees at the Real Estate Forum in Toronto insights into the next two blocks of land which are being opened up for proposals. The two parcels at LeBreton Flats comprise 6.3 and 1.2 acres, respectively, and are being allotted to major entertainment or attraction venues.
The details are contained in a Request for Expressions of Interest (REI) which is being made public today.
“We’re very excited to be here, excited to lead a discussion at the Real Estate Forum and engage with people and let them know about this opportunity,” Paris, the director, building LeBreton, for the National Capital Commission, told RENX.
The NCC is the organization which acts as steward of the land on behalf of the federal government.
The LeBreton Flats land parcels
The larger block of land in the REI sits between Albert Street and the Ottawa River, bordered by an area which is designated mainly for parkland. The smaller block is just to the north, near the Nepean Inlet off the Ottawa River, and just west of several other development blocks.
“The Major Attractions are hoped to be a regional, national and international draw for sports, music and entertainment, arts and culture and/or recreational purposes,” said NCC CEO Tobi Nussbaum in a letter introducing the REI.
Creating one or more major destination attractions is a significant aspect of the NCC’s overall vision and plan for the LeBreton Flats redevelopment. It is therefore important to establish what this will comprise early in the development phases.
“We want to come early to the process of defining the destination uses that we’ve talked about in the plan,” Paris said. “That’s why we are coming out now with this, to start early. We know these things take some time to develop and implement.
“We really want to hear what the best ideas are out there, to bring these ideas forth with some idea of who the partners are going to be, what your financing is going to look like, what is your business case for this vision and we can work with you to make it a reality.”
Developers must weigh many factors
The REI states the proposal can also contain mixed-use elements, but they will not be part of the judging criteria in choosing the best application.
The NCC also has some certainty in what can be developed at the site, with the city recently adopting its updated official plan and secondary plan for LeBreton Flats. This lays out permitted uses, building heights and other crucial development parameters.
“That means we can start: We can start on defining these destination uses and work with a proponent on bringing that vision to life and very shortly thereafter go forward with more residential, mixed-use phases.”
The sites will be made available to developers under a long-term lease.
Applicants will need to take into account a wide range of factors, including consultation with diverse interest groups, and include a significant sustainability element to their proposals.
“There is a net-zero (emissions) target for the whole site,” Paris said. “The net-zero target really depends on a whole series of actions. There are no silver bullets on this, there has got to be a whole range of different commitments. One of those commitments is going to be highly efficient buildings.
“There has also got to be carbon-free renewable energy.”
The REI calls for proposals to be submitted by Feb. 28, 2022. It plans to evaluate the proposals during March and April, after which it can either create a shortlist, or begin direct negotiations with its preferred applicant.
Library Parcel announcement in January
The NCC expects to announce the successful applicant for the first development block at its next meeting on Jan. 20. This 2.7-acre site is known as the “Library Block” due to its proximity to a new downtown City of Ottawa Library and Public Archives Canada building to be built nearby.
It is focused on residential construction and must include a minimum of 180 “affordable” housing units. It’s expected to contain more than 645,000 square feet of residential floor space.
The three consortiums shortlisted for this site are:
– Dream LeBreton: A partnership between Dream Asset Management and Dream Impact Master LP. KPMB Architects, Perkins & Will, Two Row Architect and Purpose Building comprise the design team, with PFS Studio as the landscape architect, EllisDon as the construction manager and Innovation Seven as the Indigenous engagement consultant.
– One Planet Living LeBreton: This group is led by Windmill Development Group, (Windmill), Epic Investment Services and Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation, supported by Diamond Schmidt Architects, DTAH Landscape Architects and Ledcor Projects Eastern.
– Team Central: Led by Trinity Development Group with local partners Hobin Architecture as design lead, Morley Hoppner as construction manager, Ottawa Community Housing as owner and operator of affordable housing, and the Good Companions as the owner and operator of seniors’ services.