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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Aug. 6, 201905:20 AM EST

Project Sharp proposes a 500-job, $145 million HQ near Fidelity National campus

The Downtown Investment Authority will consider a resolution that includes $29.9 million of state and city incentives for the deal.

By Mike Mendenhall and Karen Brune Mathis
The Jacksonville Daily Record

Project Sharp, which matches the needs of Jacksonville-based Fidelity National Information Services Inc., proposes to create 500 jobs and build a 300,000-square-foot office building and parking structure for a $145 million corporate headquarters.

The Downtown Investment Authority is scheduled Wednesday to consider Resolution 2019-08-01, which would enter the city into a development agreement with the unidentified Project Sharp that would include $29.9 million in state and city incentives. 

Sharp is described as an international financial technology services company. It would pay an average annual wage of $85,000 to the 500 jobs and retain its existing 1,216 jobs in Jacksonville. No time frame is included in the resolution.

Under the Sharp agreement, the project would receive $23 million in a Recaptured Enhanced Value grant from the city over 20 years.

The city and state also will offer a Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund of $3 million, or $6,000 per job. The state would pay $2.4 million and the city would pay $600,000.

A summary of the resolution says Sharp “must invest or cause to be invested” at least $130 million to remain eligible for the REV grant, which indicates a developer might be involved that would buy the land and build the structure for the company.

 The city also wants to extend a $3.5 million closing fund grant that Sharp would receive upon substantial completion of construction.

The DIA resolution includes an aerial map that shows the site is a surface parking lot adjacent to a parcel owned by Fidelity National Financial Inc. near the existing Fidelity campus along Riverside Avenue. 

The parking lot is owned by Florida Blue.

The proposed development agreement and term sheet for Project Sharp does not mention the Florida Blue parking lot as the development site for Project Sharp and only indicates that it’s “in the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area. “

Project Sharp calls for a 300,000-square-foot office building for a $145 million corporate headquarters Downtown. This map was included with the DIA resolution.

DIA CEO Lori Boyer said Monday a development site for Project Sharp has not been announced.

“I did not provide the aerials,” Boyer said. “It is not part of my resolution, it is not in the term sheet and it is not in the development agreement that I provided.”

At the same time, Resolution 2019-08-02, also under consideration Wednesday, would provide Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida Inc., which does business as Florida Blue, a $3.5 million grant to build a 750-space parking garage two blocks west on Magnolia Street. 

Florida Blue owns 4.5 acres at 323 Riverside Ave. that it uses for parking. “We have nothing to do with that. It’s owned by Florida Blue. If Florida Blue markets it or negotiates a sale of it, that’s Florida Blue’s decision,” Boyer said.

DIA proposes to convey land to Florida Blue for construction of the $22.5 million parking garage. 

If approved by the DIA, both resolutions would need City Council approval.

Project Sharp matches Fortune 500 company FIS, which completed its $43 billion acquisition of Worldpay Inc. on Wednesday.

The combination of FIS, which provides technology for financial institutions, and Cincinnati-based Worldpay, which provides payment services, will have more than $12 billion in annual revenue and 55,000 employees worldwide.

“This transformative combination significantly enhances the scale, portfolio and global footprint of FIS to help our clients capitalize on growth opportunities at a time of rapid marketplace change,” FIS Chief Executive Gary Norcross said in a news release.

FIS is based along the riverfront at 601 Riverside Ave., near the site targeted for Sharp.

While not included in the DIA resolution, the city has proposed buying Fidelity National Financial-owned property next to the Sharp site for $2.6 million.

Resolution 2019-08-02, also under consideration Wednesday, would provide Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida Inc., which does business as Florida Blue, a $3.5 million grant to build a 750-space parking garage two blocks west on Magnolia Street. 

That includes the closed Fire Station No. 5, which the city wants to remove.

That purchase is scheduled for council Finance Committee consideration today. It also will need full council approval.

FNF spun off FIS in 2006.

As FIS was negotiating to buy Worldpay and as the Riverside property proposals emerged, questions arose whether the land was being prepared for a corporate headquarters for FIS.

FIS said it employs 1,400 people in Jacksonville and has been expected to add more with the Worldpay acquisition.

Asked previously about the possibility of building a headquarters building at the site, FIS Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Kim Snider said the Worldpay acquisition creates a global company.

“As a result, we expect we will have continued growth in our Jacksonville-based employee population prompting us to explore multiple options that can accommodate our growth plans,” she said, not confirming the headquarters project.

This story has been updated with new information

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