State agrees to move grant restriction from Kids Kampus to future Shipyards West park

The Florida Department of Environmental Protections deal with the city will allow Shad Khan to build his Four Seasons hotel at the riverfront site.

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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection agreed to lift private development restrictions from a decades-old grant on the former Kids Kampus, documents from the state agency show.

The deal moves the Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s development company closer to breaking ground on his proposed $321 million Four Seasons hotel-anchored project that the city agreed could be built on the 8-acre former park. 

The agreement provided by the Downtown Investment Authority shows the department signed off on the city’s proposal to swap the riverfront former Kids Kampus for a 9-acre proposed park west of Hogans Creek on the city’s Shipyards property. 

The partial release of dedication and restrictive covenants of the 36-year-old grant was signed April 14 by Callie DeHaven, director of the Division of State Lands. 

The state’s action moves the grant restrictions on the upland portion of Kids Kampus to the Shipyards West property that the city agreed to encumber and convert to a “destination park.” 

It keeps the encumbrance in place on the public marina facilities, including the submerged land, the Downtown Riverwalk extension proposed at the site and marina support parcel. 

In its $114 million public incentives deal with the city, Khan’s Iguana Investments Florida company agreed to build the marina support building. 

DIA CEO Lori Boyer told the DIA board during its April 20 meeting that the state had executed grant release.

She said in an April 18 email the city Office of General Counsel and accounting departments were reviewing the final documents from the state “but should be signed this week.”

“There is a signature routing process that OGC executes. We will record when fully executed but this will complete the release,” Boyer said. 

Jacksonville applied for the $1.5 million grant in 1986 from the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program to develop a public marina and related support facilities as the former Kids Kampus. 

The land was dedicated in October 1988, according to the environmental department documents. 

The grant could be repaid by Khan or the city, but compounding interest has made the payoff more expensive. 

In June, Boyer said the payback amount was about $21 million.

She said Jan. 17 that figure now could be nearly $25 million.

According to Boyer, the city is expected to close on its deal with Iguana Investments at the end of May. Khan’s $321 million project includes the luxury five-star hotel, a six-story class A office building and the marina support facility. 

The city is in contract negotiations with Cambridge, Massachusetts-based design firm Agency Landscape + Planning LLC for pricing and scope to design the Shipyards West park.

The city Professional Services Evaluation Committee selected Agency’s bid in February from four firms vying to design the riverfront park. 

The park is part of a riverfront master plan by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund that the DIA board in December voted to incorporate in its five-year update of its Business Investment & Development Strategy and Community Redevelopment Area Plan.



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