‘Ottawa’ Runner-up Team Attacks NCC’s Choice of RendezVous LeBreton
The runner-up in the competition to redevelop LeBreton Flats is challenging the National Capital Commission‘s choice of the RendezVous LeBreton Group as the top-ranked proponent, warning that the NCC’s approach could “severely prejudice” the whole process.
In an email to the NCC released Wednesday, Debbie Bellinger, the lawyer for the Devcore Canderel DLS Group, raised a series of objections to last week’s decision by the NCC board to begin negotiations with RendezVous, a joint venture between Senators Sports & Entertainment and the Trinity Development Group.
Bellinger said DCDLS was “perplexed” about why RendezVous’s proposal was rated highest by an evaluation committee, based on the NCC’s stated objectives that the long-vacant lands should be developed for primarily non-residential uses, such as museums, galleries and special attractions.
RendezVous is proposing nearly 2,000 more residential units on LeBreton than DCDLS, while the runner-up team’s plan included a number of museums and attractions missing from the RendezVous bid.
DCDLS is further perplexed, Bellinger’s email says, by NCC statements that its officials hope to “lift the national prominence” of RendezVous’s public anchor uses – now principally an arena – during the planned negotiations.
“This allows one team to improve upon its proposal and to introduce elements that were not part of its formal submission,” she said. “Our position (is) the overall process will be severely prejudiced by that approach.”
The email notes that the NCC has said it was “particularly swayed” by the RendezVous proposal to cover the light rail transit line that will soon be built through LeBreton Flats.
DCDLS says it studied the feasibility of that option and concluded that it was “not economically viable, is technically difficult to implement and, more importantly, will result in significant delays in the planned opening for the Confederation Line of the LRT.”
Bellinger’s email further says DCDLS wrote the NCC prior to the public release of the two competing bids in January, alleging that RendezVous was holding public meetings with “leaders of the business community” in violation of strict confidentiality requirements.
However, her email says, there was no mention of that in NCC fairness monitor Louise Panneton’s report.
Bellinger also asked the NCC to inform RendezVous that it is not permitted to initiate discussions with any of DCDLS’s development partners, tenants and consultants.
“To the extent that the RendezVous LeBreton Group violates the foregoing, we will reserve all legal rights to insist that RendezVous LeBreton be disqualified,” her email says.
In response to Bellinger’s email, the NCC said it stands by the integrity of its solicitation process.
“Every aspect of the process and all communications with both proponents were monitored by the independent fairness monitors hired to oversee the competition and they have deemed the process to be fair, impartial and transparent,” said NCC spokesman Nick Galletti.
“We understand the disappointment of the DCDLS team, but the evaluation committee came to a clear result,” Galletti said. “RendezVous LeBreton ranked highest and have thus obtained the right to negotiate first with the NCC.”
Ken Villazor, an advisor to Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, said RendezVous had no comment on the DCDLS email.
In her email, Bellinger asked the NCC to immediately release the results of the evaluation committee’s scoring to DCDLS under a strict confidentiality agreement. The NCC doesn’t intend to release those scores until the federal cabinet signs off on a development agreement in 2017 or later.
Daniel Peritz, a vice-president at Canderel, said DCDLS, which he likened to “a lady in waiting,” wants the scores so members of its team understand “what were the things that we need perhaps to be contemplating while we’re waiting, to prepare ourselves for an eventual negotiation with the NCC.”
Peritz said DCDLS decided to release the email because neither it nor RendezVous are able to speak publicly about their bids after midnight Wednesday.
“We saw no reason not to share the valid concerns we shared with the NCC with the public at large, so people could understand where we’re coming from.”
He said the NCC has promised to respond to DCDLS’s email, but had not done so as of late Wednesday.
While DCDLS is willing to remain involved in the LeBreton procurement for now, Bellinger’s email said the group will “revisit its position from time to time, based on its assessment of where things stand.”