Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s latest vision for the Downtown Northbank is a $2.5 billion, multiphase project that pushes development away from the Shipyards and into the parking lots surrounding TIAA Bank Field.
Khan and Jaguars President Mark Lamping presented their latest renderings and development plans Thursday during the team’s sixth annual State of the Franchise presentation.
“I think this is absolutely paramount for the Jaguars to be stable in this area,” Khan said. “The city has to grow and we have to have energy around the stadium and in the stadium.”
Baltimore-based The Cordish Cos. is leading the efforts, which include at least two high-rise office buildings, a hotel and concert venue for what is now the parking lots, including Lot J, on the west side of the stadium next to the Daily’s Place amphitheater.
To replace the surface parking, Cordish proposes a 3,000-space parking garage to be developed over the retention pond.
According to Lamping, the development eventually could comprise 4.25 million square feet of space for dining, residential, office, hotel, entertainment and recreation uses.
New York-based international architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP developed the master development plan.
In June, Cordish led Khan, Lamping, Mayor Lenny Curry and members of his leadership team on a three-city tour of the company’s sports and entertainment projects in St. Louis, Kansas City and Baltimore. Lamping called those projects inspiring.
Partnership with city
Lamping said this venture will be a public-private partnership.
“This project will be a partnership with the city,” Lamping said. “I know we’re going to have lots and lots of cash into the project along with our development partners.”
Like TIAA Bank Field, the city owns the property, meaning any development likely needs approval from City Council, the Downtown Investment Authority and the Downtown Development Review Board.
Lamping said without public funds, development is not feasible.
“The extent of that, we don’t know yet, but we’re going to have conversations with the city,” he said.
Curry said those figures have not yet been determined, but he anticipates the DIA to negotiate a deal that’s fair for taxpayers.
“Any public-private partnership we do will demonstrate that there’s a return to taxpayers and we will work through that like we have the last three years,” he said.
The new designs are a departure from the development project approved by the DIA a year ago that focused on 70 acres that include the Shipyards and Metropolitan Park.
The DIA awarded Khan’s development company, Iguana Investments of Florida LLC, the right to develop the property.
When asked about the evolving nature of the Northbank site, Khan said he’s always envisioned his plans to be completed in phases based on “what we can control.”
The Daily’s Place amphitheater and the Dream Finders Homes Flex Field at Daily’s Place, which were completed in 2017, are examples of ideas that were completed while negotiations continue on bigger plans, Khan said.
Lot J site goes first
“I would expect Lot J to be the one to get the first approval and that’s the one we’re going to focus on,” Khan said.
He said the Shipyards and Metropolitan Park phases won’t be developed until the elevated highways connected to the Hart Bridge are removed.
State lawmakers reserved $12.5 million in the latest fiscal year budget and Curry’s administration is awaiting the results of a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to pay for the removal.
Curry could reserve the final costs, about $12.5 million, in an upcoming budget, although Chief of Staff Brian Hughes said previously the demolition can begin if the DOT grant is awarded.
While Lamping offered no timetable, he said he wants to see “activity underway” and an economic development deal with the city in place by this time next year.
He said construction likely would begin after the end of the 2018-19 NFL season.
“We’re confident we’ll get there because we think that there are a significant number of beneficiaries through this process, not the least of which is the City of Jacksonville,” he said.
The ground under Lot J is contaminated, mainly with petroleum, from the area’s history as a maritime and shipbuilding area.
When the Jaguars franchise was awarded, an underground clay slurry wall was built to impede the flow of groundwater and isolate any toxic substances. The parking lot was paved over it.
According to a 1996 agreement between the city and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the land can be repurposed if the property is cleaned up.
“Our feeling is, what’s beneath the surface could potentially have an impact on some of the uses,” Lamping said.
Lamping said Iguana Investments conducted preliminary testing on the site and has “100 percent confidence we can get it done.”
“We think it’s achievable,” he said. “It’s not easy, but construction techniques are significantly different from where they were 10 or 15 years ago.”
Curry said while Khan’s plans are visionary, the most important part is creating jobs and density Downtown, even if that means inside the sports and entertainment district and not the urban core.
Khan’s plans include two office towers and potentially some residential development on the parking lots.
“We’re a business-friendly city,” Curry said. “The things that we’ve done as a government with our budgets and regulatory environment is attracting additional capital.”
Convention center plans
The development also involves a convention center and hotel project for Metropolitan Park.
Curry said since Khan’s idea is a long-term plan, it doesn’t affect the city’s intentions to develop a convention center along East Bay Street on the site of the old courthouse and City Hall Annex.
Curry earmarked $8 million to demolish the structures, and the DIA is soliciting responses from interested developers to build a convention center hotel and parking garage.
“There’s an RFP (request for proposals) out and that’s a process,” Curry said.
“But right now, Lot J is the focus.”