Business Brief: Next Steps For Lot J's $500 Million Development Proposal

Apr 25, 2019

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan and team President Mark Lamping say they are moving aggressively on their $500 million development proposal for Lot J at TIAA Bank Field in Downtown Jacksonville.

WJCT News partner the Jacksonville Daily Record reports that Lamping said Tuesday, if they could, groundbreaking on the outdoor Live arena, 300-unit residential tower, hotel and office building would “happen yesterday.”

The proposal was unveiled last week at the annual State of the Franchise.

For both the Jaguars and the city, which owns the stadium property, the next step for the Jaguars is reaching consensus on a development deal and city-backed financial incentives with Mayor Lenny Curry and City Council.

“It’s hard to speculate when something might happen. We’re having very positive discussions now with the mayor’s office, and I attribute that to our shared goals and vision for Downtown Jacksonville,” Lamping said.

“We have to work on a parallel path. It’s going to be a public-private partnership,” he said.

Curry and Chief of Staff Brian Hughes confirmed Tuesday that a deal is in the works and both parties met for negotiations Tuesday morning.

“These days, I hate to put timelines on anything,” Hughes said. “You have both an administration and a development team that are both very eager to begin.”

The Jaguars showed this site plan for the Lot J development at the State of the Franchise presentation.
Credit Jacksonville Jaguars

Hughes will become the city’s chief administrative officer when CAO Sam Mousa retires in June. Hughes also is the interim CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority.

“The deal’s in the details, so as soon as we can get the details worked out, we’re going to move as fast as we can,” Hughes said.

Hughes said representatives from the mayor’s office and the Jaguars are in conversations and “nothing is on paper.”

“The team is hammering out a development agreement right now, they’re conversing to get something we can bring forward,” Curry said.

What could be in the deal

Hughes said Jacksonville taxpayers should expect the “typical menu” of incentives, including Recapture Enhanced Value grants.

The funding stream could be used for the proposed 300-unit apartment community which, according to parameters set by the DIA, would be no greater than 75% of the city/county portion of an incremental increase in taxes for a 15-year period.

Completion grants also could be used in the project, Hughes said, specifically citing the hotel component. That would be similar to the $33 million in incentives the city offered to the Berkman II hotel development at 500 E. Bay St. Downtown.

Those completion guarantees are part of the negotiations and could mandate financial commitments, a penalty for delay and/or meeting timeline benchmarks.

Basing that funding stream on performance, Curry said, protects taxpayers from investment risk.

Hughes said he’s not seeing resistance from prospective Lot J developers on the idea.

So far, no- or low-interest loans from the city are not part of the development discussion, according to Hughes, and he doesn’t expect them as part of the final deal “given the liquidity” of Khan.

The 68-year-old Jaguars owner is on the Forbes’ list of wealthiest people with a net worth of $7.3 billion as of April 24.

Curry said Tuesday “all options are on the table.”

“They’ll be a mix — if you look at some of the things they’re talking about for Lot J,” Hughes said.

“There will be things the city does. There will be things we do in partnership, and there will be things that are private — essentially privatized components of the property.”

Parking, public spaces and utility work at Lot J likely will be publicly funded projects — infrastructure that “the city participates (in) whenever it does any of this type of work,” Hughes said.

“Those models can work differently. Sometimes we build it and then they develop adjoining it. Other times, they can build it into their construction and we, ultimately, pay as if we had built it. It just depends on the model that works,” Hughes said.

Once the development deal is complete, Curry’s office will take it to the public and start to build consensus with City Council.

Curry said his office will not wait for the May 14 election to strike a deal and is prepared to work with the current or next council on Lot J.

What to expect on Lot J

The Jaguars announced that Lot J will comprise a Live Arena, residential tower, hotel and an office building.

According to Lamping, The Cordish Companies, the Baltimore-based Lot J development partner, has agreed to operate the Live Arena — an outdoor courtyard-style entertainment stage enclosed by multiple levels of bars, restaurants and retail spaces.

Video of The Cordish Companies' Power & Light District In Kansas City

The apartment tower will be a joint venture between Khan’s Iguana Investments and Cordish.

A hotel operator already is secured for the 200-room boutique hotel. The company will be announced after the city and Jaguars come to a development agreement.

Lamping said Tuesday his group is not waiting for a commitment from a corporate anchor to start development on the office building, but the Jaguars are “talking to a number of candidates.”

The rest of the complex

The city and the Jaguars plan to develop Lot J and work on peripheral projects simultaneously.

Both the mayor’s office and Lamping have confirmed the estimated 18-month demolition of the elevated highway connected to the Hart Bridge that divides the Sports Complex from the Shipyards and Metropolitan Park will be done simultaneously with Lot J construction.

Lamping said at the State of the Franchise last week and Curry reiterated Tuesday that the ramp demolition will begin after the Jaguars regular season ends Dec. 29, with possible delays if the team hosts a postseason playoff game.

“We can start Lot J while that’s happening. After that happens that will also open up the opportunity for more development on the river after Lot J is started and the ramps come down,” Curry said.

Lamping said Tuesday it’s possible, although “not probable,” they could push groundbreaking of Lot J before the end of the Jaguar’s regular season.

“Our goal is to do as many things as possible at the same time,” he said.

“We think it’s really important we create critical mass. Our goal is to move forward with the entirety of Lot J at the same time,” he said.