A concept drawing of RendezVous LeBreton’s proposal.
In a matter of days, the public watched the plan to redevelop LeBreton Flats go from uncertainty to complete SNAFU.
Of course, the situation had been devolving for some time, we learned this week as the RendezVous LeBreton partnership ended in spectacular fashion Friday afternoon with Eugene Melnyk’s $700-million lawsuit against his former partner John Ruddy of Trinity Development Group Inc. The lawsuit claims Melnyk was misled about Trinity’s large development at 900 Albert St., across from LeBreton Flats. The lawsuit called this a conflict of interest which “destroyed the viability” of the LeBreton project, because it would compete directly with residential units to be built there.
Here is how key events have unfolded.
December 2015 – RendezVous LeBreton and the Devcore Canderel DLS Group present their proposals for redeveloping LeBreton Flats.
April 2016 – The National Capital Commission selects RendezVous LeBreton — backed by Melnyk and the Ottawa Senators, Ruddy and Trinity — to redevelop LeBreton Flats. Negotiations begin.
December 2017 – In highly controversial comments to the media, Melnyk suggests moving the Ottawa Senators.
January 2018 – The NCC reaches an agreement in principle with RendezVous LeBreton. Negotiations now begin for a master development agreement to further establish detailed terms. It’s said construction could begin as early as 2019. But there are problems within the RendezVous group — and the NCC gives them until Nov. 1 to sort them out and have a corporate governance structure in place.
Separately, Melnyk insists “there’s no thought in my mind” about moving the Sens.
According to Melnyk’s lawsuit, it’s during January that his side of the partnership said it was “reconsidering” being a part of the project, because of concerns over 900 Albert St.
April – Melnyk publicly says he’s “hedging” on LeBreton.
Mayor Jim Watson publicly questions whether Melnyk is serious about the project.
A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, hired by Melnyk, says the Ottawa residential market likely cannot support both the 900 Albert St. development by Trinity as well as the residential units to be included in the LeBreton project. The two developments would ” directly complete with one another,” the report says. Trinity downplays this claim.
July – City council approves Trinity’s development at 900 Albert St., expanded to 65 storeys.
August – Watson meets with Melnyk and Ruddy. Things seem optimistic.
Summer and fall – Various meetings are held involving the NCC, Watson and others to try bringing the RendezVous partners together. The public is still unaware of the problems in the partnership.
October – The City of Ottawa is still reviewing development applications for LeBreton, more than a month after receiving them.
November 1 – RendezVous is unable to meet the NCC’s deadline for sorting their issues out and ask for a one-week extension.
November 8 – Deadline passes. No agreement.
November 20 – Coun. Jan Harder, planning committee chair, tells the Ottawa Citizen that city development applications for LeBreton Flats are ‘incomplete‘.
November 21 – The NCC board gets the full scoop on the unresolved issues inside RendezVous LeBreton, during a closed-door meeting.
November 22 – Issues are made public at the NCC’s open meeting. Sources tell the Ottawa Citizen the “issues” are Melnyk trying to avoid paying for the project’s NHL arena for his team. RendezVous now has until the January NCC board meeting to get on the same page.
November 23 – Melnyk files blockbuster $700-million lawsuit against Ruddy and Trinity, alleging a conflict of interest on Ruddy’s part due to the 900 Albert St. development. The lawsuit characterizes the LeBreton bid as “failed”.
December 18 Ruddy countersues Melnyk for $1 billion. Melnyk’s side attempts to bargain in public by offering to forfeit all their share of revenues if Ruddy builds the entire project, but lets the Senators run the arena – Ruddy’s side is not enthusiastic about the offer.
December 19 The NCC cancels the deal with RendezVous LeBreton, setting the stage for a new vision for LeBreton to take shape – and years more of work to finish it.