Economist wants ‘independent’ review of negotiations claiming up to $40m ROI for Shipyards

Team claims $6 billion in Shipyards spending boost “I don’t know whether it’s accurate, it’s not part of our process.” says DIA CEO for Shipyards

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax investigates new financial projections for the Shipyards following negotiations between the Jaguars and Downtown Investment Authority.

It shows the city could see a return on its investment of up to tens of millions of dollars, but Action News Jax Ben Becker is pressing city leaders about the numbers.

Becker dug into a new supplemental financial summary that claims the team will make an initial outlay of $314 million to just $6 million for the city- with the city eventually breaking even or even making a $40 million dollar return on investment.

”Other people are welcome to go through the in-depth analysis and come to their own conclusions,” says Lori Boyer who is the CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority.

Becker asked Boyer about an economic impact study performed by a consulting firm hired by the Jaguars.

It claims both phases of the Shipyards project will create a $6 billion boost of direct spending in the next 30 years.

”We don’t really consider much,” says Boyer. “So you do don’t believe that’s accurate?, pressed Becker. “I don’t know whether it’s accurate, it’s not part of our process.” says Boyer.

The DIA reviewed the hotel, office building and marina part of the Shipyards proposal.

The $120 million proposed practice facility - with the city picking up half the tab - is being negotiated by the mayor’s office since it’s considered part of the lease.

”The question is what does the city do alternatively with that money,” says Donald Wiggins who is Professor Emeritus of Accounting and Finance at the University of North Florida.

He believes the city will likely lose money on the deal with phase one projected to cost taxpayers at least $153 million while phase two costs have not been publicly revealed.

”I’d like someone independent without a dog in the fight to look under the hood and do the analysis,” says Wiggins.

Boyer says her staff did their due diligence.

”As a staff we believe it checks all the boxes in our plan,” said Boyer.

A DIA committee will hold a meeting this Friday with the full board voting July 7th.

If it’s approved and no other developers submit a proposal for the Shipyards property in the ensuing 30 days, it moves to City Council.