When an attorney for Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s development company addressed the city’s design review board May 11 on changes to a proposed Four Seasons hotel project Downtown, she made it a point to say the luxury hotel chain is involved.
“We are now thrilled to say, definitively, that Four Seasons is signed up on the project,” said Cyndy Trimmer, partner attorney with Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow.
“You’ll see their logo on the bottom of the pages. But when they started going through the plans with all of their various team leads, they had some thoughts about the design,” she told the Downtown Development Review Board.
The board voted 8-0 to approve Iguana Investments Florida LLC’s request to modify designs for the estimated $387 million Four Season hotel and residences and office building project planned for the former Kids Kampus park site along the Northbank of the St. Johns River.
The board first approved the hotel and office plans in May 2022.
Four Seasons corporate leadership has not officially announced that it will flag Khan’s Downtown Jacksonville hotel, but Jaguars executives have told news reporters that the project will be a Four Seasons.
The luxury hotel brand’s logo also was on the initial set of renderings that went before the review board last year.
Khan owns the Toronto Four Seasons, which he bought in 2016 through family holdings from an affiliate of Saudi Arabia-based Kingdom Holding for $172 million.
“It’s nice to publicly hear that the Four Seasons is onboard,” review board Chair Matt Brockelman said at the meeting.
“I know a lot of us were pelted with some skepticism from certain folks early in the process, saying this could never happen, but here we are.”
The Jaguars provided a statement:
“The Shipyards project is full-steam ahead and the updated submissions to the DDRB reflect the normal evolution of a project from schematic plans to final designs. The Iguana Investments team has been working hand-in-hand with Four Seasons for more than a year to make minor architectural changes and enhance configurations for spaces like the hotel entrance, ballroom and event areas, outdoor pools, and dining venues. These enhancements ensure that the new venue provides optimal programmatic offerings for residents and guests, diners and event planners, and locals and visitors alike. We appreciate receiving final DDRB approval, as we’re eager to take this project vertical.”
The Four Seasons corporate public relations office in Toronto has not replied to a May 12 email.
Iguana and its project designer HKS Architects outlined changes to the Four Seasons design that add an event lawn and move the hotel’s ballroom from its own wing of the project fronting Gator Bowl Boulevard to the interior of the hotel facing the river.
Other alterations include:
• Removing the street-facing balconies from the Class A office building, which Trimmer said will increase the leasable square footage of the 157,027-square-foot, six-story building.
• Redesigning the hotel entry court.
• Altering the layout and design of the food and beverage spaces.
• Redesigning the main pool deck and residential amenity space that Trimmer said would be “a large statement” on the waterfront.
The renderings show restaurant space will now have more windows with panoramic views of the St. Johns River. The office building will maintain its river-facing balconies.
There also appears to be a slight drop in the number of hotel rooms and for-sale residences.
Trimmer said the hotel would have 170 rooms with 24 residences. Iguana said in January it expected 176 hotel rooms with 25 luxury condominiums.
That still meets the requirements in Iguana’s $129.75 million city incentives deal for the development approved by City Council on Jan. 10.
According to the legislation, the hotel can have no fewer than 170 rooms and 23 Class A condominiums.
Overall, board members were supportive of the modifications. Joe Loretta said he wanted Iguana to consider more landscaping to “soften” a terraced wall that fronts the city’s Metropolitan Park.
Board staff said the wall was exposed because of the site elevation being raised for floodwater resiliency.
“The least exciting angle of this project is from the park and respect your (site) constraints completely,” board member Joana Berling said.
Khan will provide $200,000 annually for 20 years to pay for park maintenance as part of the development agreement.
The board also asked Iguana’s development team to work with the city traffic engineer and the Downtown Investment Authority to complete planning for the hotel project’s traffic and pedestrian interactions with Gator Bowl Boulevard.
The review board’s vote does not alter the Council-approved development agreement.
Construction manager PCL Construction started site work in November 2022.
Iguana is required to complete the project by June 30, 2026. Khan’s company must start vertical construction by Sept. 1, 2023.