Plans to move Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History (MOSH) to the Shipyards got a big boost Monday with a $5 million donation from Jaguars owner Shad Khan and his family.
The donation comes after the museum changed its plans to expand at its current Southbank location next to Friendship Fountain, and instead build an entirely new museum on the Northbank at the Shipyards, which is near TIAA Bank Field and Khan’s proposed $450 million Lot J development.
“The best Downtown districts in the United States include urban parkland and cultural destinations, and we can have that here in Jacksonville with the Museum of Science and History anchoring a new riverfront park,” said Khan in an email to WJCT News. “I’m hoping my contribution to the capital campaign will spark additional commitment from throughout the region so we can get started on a new Downtown. I am confident it will, because I know I’m not the only person in Jax who believes it’s time to finally meet and even exceed our potential.”
Khan has been lobbying the city to let him develop on Metropolitan Park, while turning the adjacent vacant Shipyards site into a park. Last week Khan proposed building a Four Seasons hotel at what is currently Metropolitan Park. The land swap would depend on approval from the National Park Service, among other factors.
The MOSH announced the launch of its capital campaign in March 2019, with the goal of raising $20 million in community support. Originally called MOSH 2.0, the campaign has since been retitled MOSH Genesis to reflect a new vision for the museum.
Last week the MOSH presented a rendering to a Downtown Investment Authority committee to illustrate what a new MOSH at the Shipyards might look like, although the illustration is seen only as a starting point and isn’t necessarily the direction the museum will take.
“MOSH would like to express our sincere thanks to Shahid Khan and his family for committing to this remarkable investment in MOSH Genesis. This gift will not only propel the project forward, but serve as a wonderful example to others,” said Bruce Fafard, CEO of MOSH in an email to WJCT News.
Although the MOSH’s leadership wants to development a new museum at the Shipyards, that tract of land isn’t available yet.
WJCT News partner the Jacksonville Daily Record reported the Downtown Investment Authority is waiting for the National Park Service to decide if the city can swap Metropolitan Park for Shipyards property to satisfy the requirements of a 1981 grant agreement that prohibits selling the 24.7-acre park without a comparable replacement.
Khan’s Four Seasons hotel plan is also continent on that property swap. Neither plan is far enough long to know what sort of city incentives might be requested for the two projects.
All the plans tie together with Khan’s proposal for Lot J, which would turn an existing TIAA Bank Field parking area into a mixed-used project that would include the LIVE! entertainment venue as well as residential, retail and a hotel.
The Hart Bridge Downtown elevated ramp and expressway system next to the sports complex and Metropolitan Park was torn down in anticipation of future development in the area.