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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Sep. 10, 201908:48 PM EST

City Council approves $29.9 million incentives package for Project Sharp

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International financial technology company says it will bring its headquarters and 500 jobs to Jacksonville. 
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

The City Council approved a $29.9 million city and state-backed incentives package Tuesday for code-named Project Sharp.

City officials say the incentives will help recruit Sharp's international headquarters to the Downtown riverfront.

Council approved Resolution 2019-596 as part of Tuesday's consent agenda. The bill includes the city’s portion of a Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund; a Recapture Enhanced Value grant; and a city-backed closing grant.

Sharp, described as an international financial technology services firm, pledges to create 500 jobs in Jacksonville and build a 300,000-square-foot office building and parking structure for a $145 million corporate headquarters.

City leaders have not released the identity of Sharp due to a nondisclosure agreement, but the company matches the profile of Jacksonville-based Fidelity National Information Services Inc.

The bill is headed to Mayor Lenny Curry for his signature.

The likely site for Sharp's headquarters is a riverfront parking lot owned by Florida Blue. An aerial photograph included in Downtown Investment Authority documents shows the lot at 323 Riverside Ave. as the intended site.

This parcel is near Fidelity's existing Riverside Avenue campus.

Documents from the city Office of Economic Development state that the jobs should be in place by 2029.

 According to the agreement, Sharp will create the positions at a rate of 50 per year starting in 2020 and will pay an average annual salary of $85,000.

The agreement also states Sharp will retain 1,216 jobs it already has in Jacksonville, similar to the size of the FIS workforce.

Sharp requested:

• A $3 million Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund, of which $600,000 is from the city and $2.4 million from the state, with a 10-year payout starting next year. The amount is $6,000 per job, with $1,200 of that from the city.

• A city Recapture Enhanced Value Grant of up to $23.4 million paid from tax increment district funds by 2043, or 20 years after the improvements are made. That indicates the structure would be completed by 2023.

• A $3.5 million city closing grant upon completion of the improvements, which much be at least $130 million.

FIS has not confirmed it is Sharp, but that could change.

FIS Chairman, President and CEO Gary Norcross is scheduled to speak Oct. 9 to the quarterly JAXUSA Partnership Luncheon about the company’s acquisition of Worldpay, the growth of the regional financial technology industry “and other upcoming announcements.”

 Florida Blue

A public hearing period closed Tuesday for related ordinance 2019-626.

The bill allows the city to provide a $3.5 million completion grant to Florida Blue to build a 750-space, $22.5 million parking garage on city-owned property at Magnolia, Park and Forest streets two blocks west of the Riverside Avenue lot.

The city would transfer ownership of the 2.3-acre parcel, appraised at $3.17 million, to Florida Blue at no cost.

That would make the riverfront parking lot available for development, although the ordinance does not affect Florida Blue's ownership of the property.

Council likely will vote on the agreement with Florida Blue at its next meeting Sept. 24.

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