Jacobs Engineering Pushes For $550M Downtown Jacksonville Convention Center

Jul 15, 2020

A development team led by Jacobs Engineering Group resubmitted a $550 million unsolicited proposal to the city for a convention center at The Ford on Bay site as the Downtown Investment Authority prepares to vote on rejecting the proposal July 15.

WJCT News partner the Jacksonville Daily Record reports the Jacobs team includes Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront parent company Westmont Hospitality Group Inc., according to a July 14 news release from the developer. 

City attorneys and DIA staff have been negotiating with Westmont since February to allow the city to sell the former Duval County Courthouse and City Hall site to New York-based Spandrel Development Partners LLC for a $136 million mixed-use residential and retail project.

Westmont has the first right of refusal to purchase The Ford on Bay’s 220 E. Bay St. parcel, north of the hotel, if the city moves to sell the property.

Signature Land Inc., KBJ-L&B Architects LLC, Denver-based Fentress Architects and Ocoee-based convention center planner Conventional Wisdom Corp are the other partners listed on the Jacobs proposal. 

This is Jacobs Engineering’s third attempt to build a convention center at the Downtown riverfront site.

Its bid scored the highest among three convention center proposals in September 2018, the DIA’s last attempt to redevelop the East Bay Street site. 

The DIA halted those plans after resistance from Mayor Lenny Curry, who said a Strategic Advisory Group study in 2017 indicated Jacksonville wasn’t ready to build a convention center. 

An expanded version of this story at JaxDailyRecord.com includes additional renderings of the proposed convention center along with more background information, including a proposal from a competitor that the DIA unanimously approved earlier this year.