Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Carlucci is calling for an independent external review of the $450 million Lot J project proposed by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.
With more than $200 million in city investment, the Lot J development could be the largest private-public partnership in Jacksonville’s history, so Carlucci said it’s critical for the City Council not to rush to a decision and to make sure it’s getting the best deal possible.
“This could be one of the biggest decisions you make while you’re on the council and we need all the information we can get in order to make a good decision,” he told his fellow council members during a meeting on Thursday.
During that meeting, Mayor Lenny Curry’s office and the City Council auditor gave drastically different taxpayer returns on investment estimates for the project.
Curry’s Chief Administrator Brian Hughes said the city will get $1.69 back for every dollar of investment but the council Auditor’s office puts ROI at just 44¢ on the dollar.
Carlucci’s proposal would have the city pay Robert Charles Lesser & Co. (RCLCO) $26,500 to review and analyze the viability and feasibility of the Lot J project.
Councilwoman Randy DeFoor, echoing the concern of many residents, says she’s worried that the project doesn’t include a Jacksonville Jaguars stadium lease extension.
“It makes zero sense to me that we’re talking about a Lot J project without a commitment on the extension of the lease,” she said during Thursday’s meeting. “Because the worst case scenario could happen: we have a Lot J entertainment center in the middle of nowhere with no Jaguars.”
She’s calling for the Jaguars stadium lease to be extended by 25 years and for a commitment to a minimum number of home games.
The Jaguars currently have ten years left on their lease and President Mark Lamping said the project would help keep the team, along with other sports teams, in Jacksonville longer.