Team President Mark Lamping says JEA’s decision to build elsewhere doesn’t change plans to develop the site at TIAA Bank Field.
Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping said team owner Shad Khan is committed to development at Lot J, the TIAA Bank Field parking site that city utility JEA bypassed for its headquarters.
What’s next for the site is expected to be discussed at the Jaguars’ State of the Franchise presentation Thursday.
“As far as what you might see on Lot J in terms of a timetable, I’m sure we’ll talk about it on Thursday,” Lamping told the Northeast Florida chapter of the University of Missouri alumni association meeting at The Bread and Board in Riverside.
JEA chose a site next to the Duval County Courthouse to build a headquarters for more than 800 employees.
While Khan bid for JEA at Lot J, Lamping said “not a thing has changed in terms of Shad Khan’s commitment” to Downtown development.
“Lot J exists exactly the same” as before the JEA decision, he said. “We keep our eye on the prize and we keep moving on.”
The JEA decision “doesn’t change at all the need for us to develop Lot J,” he said.
At the 2018 State of the Franchise, the Jaguars and Khan’s Iguana Investments Florida LLC introduced The Cordish Companies of Baltimore as a development partner for a $2.5 billion mixed-use project at the sports complex.
“Downtown Jacksonville is a real priority for us,” Lamping said. The sports complex is just east of the Downtown core.
Lamping said the Power & Light District, a Cordish project in Kansas City, Missouri, attracted the headquarters for H&R Block. H&R Block Center brought 1,600 employees from a half-dozen locations into a 17-story high-rise tower and a smaller structure.
The district comprises housing, offices and entertainment.
Those almost 2,000 jobs, Lamping said, created opportunities. “Once you get that, a lot of things can follow.”
“JEA would have gotten us almost halfway there,” he said. “It doesn’t change our motivation to do it and it doesn’t in any way change our optimism that we’ll get it done.”
Lamping said development around TIAA Bank Field is important to the city and the team.
“We have to do that because we believe it’s one of the many things we have to accomplish to fulfill our obligation of a stable, financially strong NFL franchise here in Jacksonville.”
He said that to revitalize a neighborhood, “you need to have a base of people that are working there every day. Then hopefully that will lead to people living there.”
Asked his opinion about The Jacksonville Landing site that the city wants to demolish along the Downtown riverfront, Lamping said the central business district is missing a central gathering point.
“You’ve got this beautiful view by the Main Street Bridge and making that accessible to more and more people, opening up the view corridors from Downtown, having our expectations being broader than just five or six blocks Downtown” is important.
“I think just taking a little pause on the Landing might make a lot of sense because I believe Downtown’s better days are ahead of us,” he said.
Lamping said that by waiting to decide its use and possibly turning it into a park during that time is advantageous.
“Ultimately, when things really get going, you could really achieve exactly what the community needs in that spot,” he said.