Dream Asset Management to build LeBreton Flats towers with $27.5 million subsidy on $30 million land purchase

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Toronto-based developer Dream Asset Management will lead a team building a pair of towers in Ottawa’s LeBreton Flats after the federal government’s National Capital Commission  (NCC) decided to sell the 1.1 hectare parcel on land near the new central library.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. will subsidize $27.5 million of the purchase price with a forgivable loan to support affordable housing and net-zero construction, the NCC announced last Thursday (Jan. 20). In exchange, Dream will ensure the project includes a mixture of affordable housing units, social programs and environmentally friendly construction.

The sale initiates the NCC’s rebooted master plan for the long-vacant site near the city’s downtown area. There were three shortlisted bids for the land parcel.

“I think it’s a really fantastic start and it does set the tone and the stage for future real estate parcels,” said NCC CEO Tobi Nussbaum.

Dream is already working in the area as the organization behind Zibi, a major redevelopment taking place in the area at former Ottawa River paper mill.

Dream has partnered with Ottawa non-profit Multifaith Housing Initiative, which will own 130 of the 601 units and offer them for rent at 59 per cent below market rental value, in perpetuity.

Meanwhile, Dream will also operate 117 of its rental units at 79 per cent of the market rate for 55 years. Accordingly, 41 per cent of the apartments will be offered at a below-market rental price, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) reported.

Justin Robitaille, Dream’s vice-president of development, said the forgivable loan from CMHC would help fund the affordable housing units.

The site itself is attractive, he told the broadcaster. “We see it as an important connector and an important gateway for the LeBreton Flats development,” said Robitaille.

dream multifaith

The developer plans a $150,000 annual charitable contribution and amenities including a community hub, daycare and community bike shop.

The project should be completed by 2026.

The NCC said in a statement that the project would become the largest residential building in Canada to be considered “zero-carbon” by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC).

The towers will make use of heat from the large collector sewers under the site in order to heat and cool the towers. A window will let passersby see the exchange system.

dream 2

NCC board members were enthusiastic about this first sale at LeBreton, and saw it as a “proof of concept” for the next phases.

“Let’s be honest, I think some people were skeptical,” said board member and Toronto lawyer Michael Foderick. “There’s no reason for skepticism anymore. It’s obvious that this is going to work.”

Fellow board member Larry Beasley, a former chief planner in Vancouver, said the NCC should be doing model projects like this, CBC reported.

“I really feel confident now that LeBreton will join that small list of projects [in the world] that are achieving all the fronts that are needed in modern cities.”


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