Why RendezVous LeBreton Won

By Bruce Firestone | Uncategorized

Apr 29

How did RendezVous Lebreton’s bid win over the board of directors of the National Capital Commission, NCC, aka the No Commitment Club?

How did they beat out well-connected Devcore Canderel DLS Group’s bid?

And finally, why did I prefer the RendezVous proposal?


Here are the reasons:

-because the RendezVous proposal included Sens owner Eugene Melnyk; it’s a little hard to build an NHL-caliber arena when you don’t own an NHL team

-to right an historic wrong–the NCC turned the Sens

down when they first asked to build at LeBreton Flats a generation ago–in the period 1987-1990

-RendezVous had more density; ie, many more residential units; you cannot have a vibrant and safe downtown if no one lives there

-RendezVous had more intensity–more mixing together of different uses, more retail space, more office space, more institutional space–people want to live-work-play-learn-shop in their community, and not have to drive everywhere

-Devcore Canderel DLS’ inclusion of kitschy attractions like a Ripley’s Aquarium did not help them in my opinion–these types of projects are ones that you visit once or twice in a lifetime not every week or month

-RendezVous decided to cover the LRT line bisecting the site, like what is being done at NYC’s Hudson Yards (where they are burying the train yards and building the largest real estate project in US history above them) bringing much greater connectivity between neighborhoods


-They integrated both the existing Aqueduct and a new boardwalk*, which will highly animate the site–winter as well as summer

-Every NHL franchise has to cater to the “engine” of their team–season ticket holders

-Chicago Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz once told me the key to running a successful NHL franchise is selling out your building

-Sens president Cyril Leeder** said that the engine of their team is ticket buyers between the ages of 18 and 45, and where do these people want their arena?

-downtown so that after a game (and before) they can enjoy other attractions

-don’t worry about the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata–it’ll be re-purposed like Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto was: for one or more big box stores with a 7,000 vehicle parking lot, which will attract at least as many people to the building as it does now, and make Mr Melnyk more money than even having the Sens play there

-Kanata will be fine

Left to its own devices, the NCC would have continued with their existing efforts, which have been slow to develop (more than 50 years so far) and have resulted in the building of yet another sterile no-place. They have no choice but to harness the power and imagination of a qualified private sector partner. 

Lastly, it’s hard to underestimate the importance to this process of the earlier decision by the NCC’s board to bring in world class planner, Stephen Willis, from the
private sector to become their chief planner. Mr Willis has the vision, guts, brains and training to take the NCC and Ottawa to a whole other level. Individuals count. 

There, that’s my take on things.

@ profbruce

* A boardwalk can be a huge progenitor of urban growth; please read about NYC’s High Line park here, https://profbruce.tumblr.com/post/130126142074/how-turning-an-abandoned-rail-line-into-a-linear and my proposal to add the world’s longest boardwalk to connect Ottawa’s three rivers and canal, https://profbruce.tumblr.com/post/81890840941/what-to-expect-when-canada-turns-150-in-2017

** Cyril appeared in front of three boards on behalf of the Sens: the National Hockey League’s board of governors (to acquire an expansion franchise), the NCC’s board of directors and the Ontario Municipal Board, OMB (defending the original design/location of the Palladium, now CTC, Canadian Tire Centre). He and his team won all three… 

postscript: please note the author is Ottawa Senators founder.

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.