The DIA board voted Wednesday night to recommend that the City Council approve Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s proposed Lot J development with some recommended changes to the deal. The developer also agreed to some concessions." class="wysiwyg-break drupal-content" src="/sites/all/modules/contrib/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" title="<--break-->">
The proposed $457 million development next to TIAA Bank Field includes more than $230 million in city investments, according to the DIA staff report.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the DIA board voted to remove several recommendations in that report, including an item that questioned a city-financed $18 million residential parking garage and another that questioned the need for a proposed $65.5 million 50-year no interest “breadbox” loan from the city to the developer.
The board also voted against a motion introduced by board member Oliver Barakat that would have advised the City Council to get more information about that loan to determine if it is necessary for the deal to move forward.
“We’re debating a $65 million 50-year no interest loan on top of every other incentive it looks like we’re going to tell City Council we’re OK with,” Barakat said. “That’s an extraordinary ask. Period. And we’re not going to render any opinion? We’re even afraid to say, ‘City Council, you need information’?”
However, the board did vote to send the full staff report to the City Council for review, including the recommendations the board voted against.
“If an elected official, in casting a vote on a $250 million incentive package, can’t be bothered to read 55 pages of a report — like I did, an unelected official who’s not being compensated to do that job — then they should resign,” said DIA board member Bill Adams.
Jaguars President Mark Lamping was at the meeting and agreed to a host of concessions on behalf of Jaguars Owner Shad Khan and The Cordish Companies. Among the concessions, Lamping agreed to pay property taxes on the office park portion of the Lot J complex and to a hotel room surcharge that would help pay for the $12.5 million hotel completion grant, WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reported.
Lamping told the DIA board that the development would attract 2 to 3 million additional people to the sports complex every year, though he didn’t provide any data to support that claim.
A new analysis from the Northeast Florida Regional Council finds that the project is expected to create an additional 367 jobs indirectly in addition to 495 jobs directly employed by the project in year 5 (when the project is expected to have stabilized). That’s assuming the project brings new economic activity to Duval County, as Lamping and the developer are suggesting it will.
On the other hand, if the project does not bring new visitors and spending to the county, the NEFRC report finds that — while an expected 495 direct jobs would still be created — 366 fewer jobs would be created as a result of increased competition with existing hotels, restaurants and retail businesses.
“The net employment gain is 129,” Jack Shad, Economic Development Project Manager at the NEFRC, said, explaining the second estimate in the report. “I would say the actual result would be somewhere in the middle, but I think you’d need an actual feasibility study to make a better determination in advance.”
Mayor Lenny Curry said in October that the development would bring “over 1,000 permanent jobs.”
The Jacksonville City Council is expected to consider the DIA’s recommendations on Thursday morning.