"What we need is more people in businesses and retail in between," says Megha Parekh.
Jacksonville Jaguars Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel Megha Parekh says the proposed Lot J development would be “the first real development” in the Downtown Sports and Entertainment District.
“There’s very few cities that I can think of that have a beautiful river that run through it, the climate that we do. And then these facilities being that approximate to one another. I think that’s a real asset. What we need is more people in businesses and retail in between. And for it to be walkable,” Parekh said at the JAX Chamber Mandarin Council luncheon Thursday.
Parekh, who joined the Jaguars in 2013, said with the Lot J and Shipyards developments, the area would feel more connected and closer to the St. Johns River.
She and Jaguars owner Shad Khan are working to negotiate a development agreement with the city for the $450 million Lot J development, Parekh said.
Plans for the development include a 300-unit residential tower, 200-room boutique hotel, 120,000-square-foot Class A office tower and a Live! Entertainment District.
Joint developers Gecko Investments LLC and The Cordish Companies hope to break ground in early January.
Parekh added some have expressed concern about the loss of parking when Lot J is developed.
“There’s a lot that’s been discussed regarding parking – but I think I may be unfairly insensitive to that as a concern coming from the Northeast — to where it’s not that people don’t need a solution for parking, it’s that I don’t want the tail to wag the dog,” she said. “It shouldn’t stop critical development Downtown where there’s two bars around a stadium, amphitheater, ballpark, and who knows what else will come down there.”
Parekh said Khan already has made improvements to the Sports and Entertainment District with the renovations to the Jaguars stadium, and the addition of the Daily’s Place amphitheater and the Dream Finders Homes Flex Field at Daily’s Place practice facility.
“In a way that I never could have imagined, if you look at a picture of the stadium from bird’s-eye in 2016, there were just a bunch of tables with shade out in the south end zone where there’s now a music venue and an indoor football field there,” she said. “The greatest challenge is trying to sort of stay above water while all of this is going on.”