Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s office has released the terms of a proposed deal between the city and Jacksonville I-C Parcel One Holding Company, LLC, a joint venture between Gecko Investments, LLC (an affiliate of the Jacksonville Jaguars) and The Cordish Companies.
The city would invest a total of $233.3 million in grants and infrastructure improvements for the project that has an estimated development cost of $450 million.
The Lot J plan is broken down into five major components:
- The Live! Entertainment district, which the city compared to "similar projects" in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Arlington, Texas, all of which has been done by The Cordish Companies
- A 300-unit luxury high-rise residential tower similar to ones developed in Kansas City and St. Louis
- A boutique hotel with 200 units
- A 120,000-square-foot office tower
- A surface parking lot with 700 spaces. It would be built above the storm water retention pond to the west of Lot J. In addition, 600 parking spaces will be integrated into the hotel, residential tower, office tower or as street parking.
The centerpiece of the project is be the Live! Entertainment district. The city would retain ownership of the district, while the developer would operate the entertainment district.
The city is pledging to pay 50% of the cost to develop the entertainment district, up to $50 million.
The ownership structure is somewhat reminiscent of downtown’s former entertainment centerpiece: The Jacksonville Landing.
Before the Landing was sold back to the city earlier this year, the city retained ownership of the land while Jacksonville Landing Investments, LLC, an arm of Sleiman Enterprises, operated the former festival marketplace.
The Landing is slated for demolition, with fencing scheduled to go up this month.
Under the proposed Lot J agreement, the city would give the developers the land for the Lot J high-rise tower or towers, the boutique hotel, the officer tower and a mid-rise residential building or buildings.
The city has pledged $92.8 million in infrastructure improvements in the area that would include parking, sidewalks, utilities and environmental cleanup. The environmental remediation is expected to cost $6.3 million, while the biggest cost would be for parking improvements at $53.2 million.
The city has also agreed to waive tipping fees at the Trail Ridge Landfill if contaminated soil is hauled there.
The proposed agreement includes a clause that would seem to be aimed at shielding the city against any potential overruns:
The parties agree to cooperate to structure the financial aspects in connection with the Project in the most tax-efficient manner permitted, which may result in changes to the terms set forth herein, but which will not increase the total dollar amount the City is obligated to contribute.
Jaguars President Mark Lamping said, "We've never been closer to realizing a new Downtown Jacksonville than we are today. While today's news is not the final step, it's by far the most significant step in our mission to reinvent how we work, live and gather in Downtown Jacksonville.” Lamping made the statement to WJCT News partner the Jacksonville Daily Record.
The Cordish Companies, based in Baltimore, has an extensive record of developing entertainment districts.
The family-owned venture spans four generations dating back to 1910.
Among its projects is Kansas City Live! in the Power & Light District of Kansas City, which makes up a city block with two levels of restaurants, taverns and night spots. It includes a concert stage and marquee city events.
It’s located across the street from the Sprint Center, which is perhaps best compared to Jacksonville’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, although the Sprint Center’s architecture is quite different.
The proposed Lot J deal goes next to the Jacksonville City Council, Downtown Investment Authority and to city administrators for consideration.