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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Oct. 5, 202107:01 PM EST

$114 million incentives deal for Shad Khan’s Four Seasons headed to final vote

Three City Council committees advanced a bill for the proposed $321 million project near TIAA Bank Field.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

A $114 million public financing package to help support Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s proposal to build a Four Seasons Hotel and Residences-anchored development on the Downtown riverfront near TIAA Bank Field is headed for a final City Council vote.

The Council Finance and Rules committees both voted unanimously Oct. 5 to support the deal that backs developer Iguana Investments Florida LLC’s estimated $321 million plan to develop the city-owned former Kids Kampus Park.

This follows a unanimous vote Oct. 4 by the Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety Committee.

If approved at the Oct. 12 full Council meeting, the bill would grant Khan’s company a $25,834,887 cash grant after construction is complete in addition to a 20-year, 75% Recapture Enhanced Value Grant, or tax rebate, of up to $47,683,955 for the hotel.

The remaining city investment comes from land value, infrastructure and public amenities integrated into the project the city would agree to fund.

The deal also gives Iguana the option to build a support building and with a ship store and restaurant for the Metropolitan Park marina, events lawn and Northbank Riverwalk improvements. 

The estimated $17.273 million in construction costs would be funded by the city with Iguana responsible for cost overruns.

In its term sheet, the DIA estimated it will cost the city $8.72 million to relocate the Marine Fire Station, dock and historic Fire Museum on the property.

The project would have a marina and events lawn.

The remaining $2 million comes from easements granted to the developer and projected loss of land value from leasing the office building parcel.

The city will retain ownership of the 1.05-acre office parcel and lease it to Iguana for $36,000 per year for 40 years. 

In July, the DIA board voted to recommend Council approve the agreement with the Jaguars’ affiliate.

The legislation commits Khan to a minimum $301,057,548 development. Iguana says the project will comprise a 176-room Four Seasons with 25 for-sale luxury condominiums, a full-service spa and restaurant and a 157,027-square-foot, six-story, Class A office building. 

“It’s a very big, very complex project but I think it’s going to really change that part of Downtown Jacksonville for generations to come,” Jaguars President Mark Lamping said Oct. 4.

The Finance Committee voted 7-0 to support the legislation and the Rules Committee voted 6-0.

Before the Rules Committee decision, Council member Rory Diamond said the city’s investment in Khan’s would increase surrounding property value. 

He said incentive deals, including the total $114 million price tag for the Four Seasons, are often “misunderstood” by taxpayers. 

“When people see the big money number coming from the city, it’s literally a targeted tax cut for money that wouldn’t exist but for the development. If you have an empty piece of land, it is actually costing us money to maintain it and it has no taxable value. Especially if the city owns that land,” he said.

A map of the development area.

“We allow someone to have it and then they build a beautiful hotel on it, all of the sudden it’s taxable value skyrockets.”

Diamond said “every city needs a great sports and entertainment district. And right now, we don’t have one. And without this hotel and these developments that are coming, we’ll never have one.” 

Finance Committee Chair Ron Salem worked with the Council Auditor’s Office to add financial protections for the 4.77 acres of Kids Kampus property the city would sell to Iguana for $100. 

The land is appraised at $12.45 million. 

Jaguars attorney Paul Harden told the Neighborhoods Committee on Oct. 4 that Khan agreed to the amendment because there is no intent to sell the Four Seasons during that five-year clawback period, which Harden noted falls within the NFL team’s remaining stadium lease that expires in 2030. 

Salem said Oct. 4 without language in the agreement dealing with future stadium lease extensions, the amendment “increases the stickiness between Iguana, the Jaguars and the city of Jacksonville.”

Lamping said Iguana will start the project in the first quarter of 2022. 

The agreement with the city says the developer construction of the hotel and office building has to start no later than June 1, and the project must be completed by Dec. 31, 2025.

The project also needs design approval from the Downtown Development Review Board and will require city permit approvals. 

Boyer said Oct. 4 she expects a faster turnaround and the hotel could be up within 2 to 2½ years.

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