When last we checked in with Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk back in April, he’d won a discounted deal to get land and development rights for a new downtown arena project at LeBreton Flats, but was stalling on actually starting building it because he called it a “tremendous risk.” And if you had “sue your development partners” next on your Eugene Melnyk bingo card, you’re a winner!
While people involved in the LeBreton negotiation have accused Melnyk of being the roadblock to landing a final development deal, Melnyk’s lawsuit claims he was kept in the dark about [Trinity Developments’ John] Ruddy’s development interest at 900 Albert St., across from the Bayview LRT station and near LeBreton Flats…
The lawsuit says Melnyk hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to look into the residential market and found the massive project at 900 Albert would “destroy the viability of the LeBreton project outright.” The market, according to the lawsuit’s description of the report, couldn’t support both projects.
That certainly sounds like Melnyk being a roadblock — “we don’t to build housing with our partner because they’re also building housing elsewhere” is a strange argument, especially since Ruddy would be effectively shooting himself in the foot as well. The Ottawa Citizen cites “three sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations” (without saying which side they’re on) as alleging that the Senators owner is just trying to get out of paying for an arena, while indicating that “no one is quite sure what Melnyk’s end-game is on LeBreton Flats.” Presumably by “no one” they didn’t include Melnyk himself, though given the man’s behavior so far, it’s always possible he has no idea what he’s doing either.
Whether this is good news or bad news for Ottawa residents depends on whether a developer can now be found for the site whose plan is something other than “get rights to the land, sit around complaining until someone else pays to build on it,” but presumably that won’t be too hard. It’s probably bad for Senators fans, who will have to keep shlepping out to the existing arena way out of town for games (or not, which has more often been the case), but that’s still arguably better than paying once for tickets and again for an arena with tax money, as seemed to be Melnyk’s goal.