The owner of the Ottawa Senators is suing the developer he partnered with to redevelop LeBreton Flats and build a new arena for the NHL team downtown, a move that likely marks the end of RendezVous LeBreton’s bid for the long-awaited city-building project.
The news comes just one day after the National Capital Commission (NCC), which owns the land in question and tapped Melnyk and the Trinity Development Group Inc. to lead the mammoth project, announced the two partners had “unresolved issues” over their corporate governance structure.
The Crown corporation’s board of directors voted on Thursday to give Capital Sports Management Inc. (CSMI) — owned by Melnyk — and Trinity until January to sort out their “internal partnership issues.”
The lawsuit filed on Friday by CSMI alleges the LeBreton Flats joint venture “failed because of an egregious conflict of interest on the part of Trinity and its principal, John Ruddy, that ought to have been identified to CSMI and resolved but instead only worsened over time.”
“The conflict was created when Ruddy and Trinity began developing an abutting property at 900 Albert Street in a manner that put the development of 900 Albert in direct competition with the LeBreton Project,” the statement of claim reads.
“Ruddy and Trinity should have identified the conflict to CSMI and either withdrawn from the joint venture or harmonized the two developments.”
Once built, the development at 900 Albert St. will be a massive residential and commercial complex consisting of three skyscrapers, the biggest of which will be 65 storeys and Ottawa’s tallest high rise.
The site is adjacent to the 53-acre LeBreton Flats property and the Bayview transit station, soon to be the junction of two light rail lines.
The lawsuit names Trinity Development Group Inc., Ruddy and Graham Bird, the president of construction and project management company Graham Bird Associates.
On top of an 18,000-seat NHL hockey arena, RendezVous LeBreton’s $4-billion redevelopment proposal for the site included 4,000 new housing units, commercial and retail space, a number of public areas and a French-language public school.
For the most part, the land has been vacant and unused since the 1960s.
The NCC did not comment on the suit on Friday. A spokesperson for Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said the mayor is unable to comment on the dispute as the matter is before the courts.
None of the allegations in CSMI’s statement of claim has been tested in court.
— More to come