New entertainment venue to open at former Rideau Street Chapters

The National Capital Commission (NCC) has confirmed a new music and entertainment venue is coming to Ottawa's downtown.

In a news release on Wednesday, the NCC said the former Chapters bookstore on Rideau Street has been leased to entertainment company Live Nation Canada to host a variety of events.

According to the NCC, the venue is set to open in late 2025 after renovations take place.

"The NCC is pleased to play a positive role in the collective efforts of local partners to revitalize the downtown core of the Capital post-COVID," said the NCC's CEO Tobi Nussbaum in the release.

"This new state-of-the-art live music and entertainment venue in the heart of downtown will be a great destination for residents and visitors, contribute to increased economic activity for local restaurants and shops, and generate vibrancy and excitement for the National Capital Region as a whole."

Entertainment scene 'cornerstone'

Wayne Zronik, president of business operations for Live Nation Canada, said in a statement that the goal is to create a vibrant space for artists and fans to come together in the nation's capital.

"This new establishment will undoubtedly become a cornerstone of the local entertainment scene and a beloved destination for years to come," he said.

Bill Leonard, vice-president of real estate and development with the NCC, told CBC the new venue is expected to host at least 200 events a year. He said the NCC considered other tenants, but Live Nation was the best fit.

"We're a landlord, in this particular instance, interested in animation and rejuvenation of the downtown core. I think this project is absolutely perfect for that," he said.

Live Nation Canada and the NCC told CBC the capacity of the venue will be about 2,000. The property includes nearly 41,000 square feet of above-ground space and another 24,000 square feet in the basement.

The city is also set to lease nine paid parking spots on George Street to Live Nation Canada as a loading area for the venue.

Rideau-Vanier Councillor Stéphanie Plante says she's hopeful added police presence and the University of Ottawa's all-day event will keep students away from residential areas.
Rideau-Vanier Councillor Stéphanie Plante says she welcomes the announcement of a new live entertainment venue near the ByWard Market, but said the city also needs to address existing problems in the area. (Felix Desroches/Radio-Canada)

City councillors pleased

At Wednesday's meeting of Ottawa city council, Coun. Matt Luloff praised the announcement.

"This is good news for the City of Ottawa that we're looking at this sort of venue. We've been in desperate need of this sort of upper-end, mid-size venue for quite some time," he said.

Luloff said a venue of this size can attract up-and-coming bands to the city, as well as hosting local acts.

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Stéphanie Plante also welcomed the announcement, but noted there remain other issues in the area that need attention.

"Anytime there's any new amenities or things to do or events in the ByWard Market, we always welcome that," she said.

"But we have to deal with the nucleus of the problem, which is the housing, homelessness, opioid crisis that is predominantly in my ward. Once we can get all those pieces together, I think you will see big, big changes in the Byward Market."

The Chapters store that previously occupied the building closed in 2022. Parent company Indigo Books and Music opening an Indigo location across the street inside the Rideau Centre.

Radio-Canada confirmed the sale to the NCC in mid-January. The NCC has confirmed the purchase price was $21.8 million.