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Councilman Carlucci: 'Voters Will Never Forgive Us' If Lot J Deal Mishandled

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Jacksonville Jaguars
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Via Jacksonville Daily Record
This rendering illustrates a view of the proposed Lot J project.

Jacksonville at large City Councilman Matt Carlucci said Monday that the proposed Lot J development deal, future TIAA Bank Field upgrades and the Jaguars' stadium lease should be linked together.

"They are tied tightly together and should be negotiated as one deal," Carlucci said in an email to WJCT News, adding if the city does not handle all three things correctly, "voters will never forgive us."

Carlucci's warning comes one day ahead of a special Downtown Investment Authority meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 2, at which time the DIA is expected to discuss the findings of a Lot J report the authority is working on, according to WJCT News partner the Jacksonville Daily Record.

That report examines the $450 million deal proposed by Jaguars owner Shad Khan and Mayor Lenny Curry's administration to develop the Lot J parking lot area at the stadium complex into a mixed-use attraction that includes entertainment, residential and retail.

As currently proposed, the deal does not include a lease extension or stadium upgrades.

Jaguars President Mark Lamping told WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union last month that a major stadium renovation will be needed before any lease extension is signed, but added the Lot J development would make extending the Jaguars' lease more appealing to NFL owners. 

Lamping told the Times-Union any lease extension would require three-quarters majority approval of NFL owners.

Carlucci is lobbying against City Council's fast-tracking a vote on the Lot J proposal, calling for the council to "get negotiations out of the back room."

He also wants the Downtown Development Review Board to be involved with the architectural specifications. The initial renderings for the project have been put together by The Cordish Companies, which Khan chose to develop the project.

Carlucci said DIA Executive Director Lori Boyer is scheduled to make a recommendation to the DIA board for a vote on Wednesday, followed by the council's voting on the DIA recommendation on Thursday. Currently, a final vote is scheduled by the City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 8.

"There is no reason to bypass usual DIA and DDRB review processes, which all other proposed projects of any size must adhere to.  To do so undercuts the very reason DIA was created and establishes unfair policy that treats some projects differently from others," Carlucci said.

If approved as currently negotiated, the city would provide $233 million in incentives. Mayor Curry and his administration negotiated the current proposal. 

City Council President Tommy Hazouri has also criticized the proposal and how the mayor's administration handled the negotiations. 

Curry responded on Twitter on November 24 to those criticizing the proposal, calling on the council to "Stop stalling," adding, "Get your questions answered and go on the record as a yes or a no. Enough with the speeches."

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.