Environment A ‘Real Priority’ For Jaguars’ New Downtown Development Plans

Jun 3, 2021

The Jacksonville Jaguars have announced new development plans for Downtown Jacksonville and the Shipyards that include a Four Seasons Hotel and Residences, an office building, a sports medicine complex and improvements to the city-owned marina and public spaces and officials say environmental considerations will be a “real priority” for the project.

“My goal is for Downtown Jacksonville to be the envy of cities here in the U.S. and elsewhere, and I see no reason why we can’t achieve that goal,” said Jaguars owner Shad Khan. “I am confident we have the local leadership, spirit and commitment to revitalize Downtown Jacksonville in a manner that will make the world take notice while also serving the needs of the community and the people who make Jacksonville their home.”

Phase 1 of the plan includes a Four Seasons Hotel, an office building, a new football performance center, stadium renovations and improvements to the city-owned marina and public spaces.

The Four Seasons, which is anticipated to open in early 2025, would include 176 guest rooms as well as 25 residential units.

The city-owned marina would be renovated and modernized and the team plans to build a new 6,500-square-foot marina support building. The marina facilities would still be owned by the city.

The planned six-floor office building would include 116,000-square-feet of leasable space and would become the future home of the Jaguars’ business operations, affiliated companies and third-party tenants.

The football performance center would be a hybrid facility focused on team operations and public access. The center, which would be built next to the stadium near Gate 2, would include public art, public viewing stands, concession areas, a retail store, public meeting space, locker rooms, training and recovery areas, medical support facilities, a weight room, dining facilities, coaches and scouts’ offices, a draft room and two full-size grass practice fields and a full-size indoor practice field.

Building the performance center would allow the team and football operations to move out of the stadium permanently and make it possible for stadium renovations to get started. Additionally, the center would mean Jaguars home games could still be played at TIAA Bank Field as the stadium is renovated.

Jaguars President Mark Lamping said they’re also focused on making the performance center a green and sustainable building.

“Purposeful integration of green design, targeting LEED platinum, a roof with solar panels, permeable ground in the parking area, a lot of windows, a lot of natural daylight, a lot of architectural techniques to cool the building down, windows that open to take advantage of the Florida climate,” he said. “Being a green building is a real priority.”

The Jaguars said they would sign a long-term lease for the practice facility, which is expected to open in the summer of 2023. The team also plans to contribute $60 million to cover half of the cost of the building. On top of that, the Jaguars say they would take full responsibility for ongoing capital, maintenance and operational costs of the football facilities, which in the past have been the responsibility of the city of Jacksonville.

The total estimated cost for phase 1 of the project is $441 million.

Phase 2 of the project includes an orthopedic sports medicine complex, which would be built in partnership with Baptist Health and the Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute.

Phase 2 would also include 15,000-square-feet of street-level retail space, a parking structure and, potentially, a residential component.

Lamping said environmental concerns are being taken into consideration and some structures would be raised to account for flooding and sea level rise.

“If we actually do get a water breech, those parking garages will serve as, basically, a space for the water to go,” he said. “The reality is the Jaguars and Shad [Khan] are going to be putting in the overwhelming majority of dollars into this project. We have more at risk than anybody else so we’re going to make sure that it’s not a project that fails because of environmental situations.”

Project plans don’t include any development at Metropolitan Park. The Jaguars have come out in support of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and the city’s efforts to activate the park and riverfront area. The team plans to adopt the park through the city’s Private Park Adoption Program and commit $4 million over 20 years to help keep it clean, safe and well-maintained.

The Jaguars expect the two-phase project to spur Downtown development and growth and create jobs.

To help illustrate the plans and engage the community, the Jaguars have launched an initiative called 1st DownTown Jacksonville.

The Jaguars will be working with the Downtown Investment Authority and city officials to hammer out the details of a city incentives package for the plans.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.