JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The redevelopment of Lot J will not happen, for now. The $450 million project needed thirteen yes votes to get the official green light Thursday evening. That did not happen.
After the decision, Jaguars President Mark Lamping told Action News Jax, “We know that it was a very complex process to go through 63% of the council supported it, you need 68%. That’s what the rules are and we are not going to question the rules, so we will pull the plug on Lot J. It’s dead but it doesn’t change the way we started this.”
Twelve had voted yes, but seven council members voted against the bill after an unsuccessful attempt to remove the $65 million bread box loan earlier in the evening.
Mistrust and transparency issues were the driving forces on why seven voted against it.
During discussions, Councilwoman Randy DeFoor said she could not support it stating, “A deal without all the facts is not worthy of our trust…We need a reboot. We need to go through the DIA and gain public trust.”
Councilman Garrett Dennis, who also voted against it, said Tuesday, “The deal was been under a cloud of suspicion and distrust.”
The seven who voted against the bill Tuesday night were the ones who also wanted the $65 million bread box loan off the table. It’s more or less a grant from the city to the developers.
The developers would have gotten approximately $50 million and the rest would have gone into a trust for the city.
Developers said they would not be able to complete the project without that approximate $50 million.
So that amendment was once again nixed by council.
Several who were in favor of the overall project said they believed this to be a one-time deal.
“I think it’s important for us to take this and run with it,” Councilman Boylan said.
Lamping tells Action News Jax they will be pulling the plug on Lot J and focusing their efforts on the development of the shipyards.
“I think it’s time to turn the page on Lot J, so we will leave that behind and as I said, the next step is going to be development of the shipyards. We are going to focus our attention on that. We will go through the process with the shipyards which will go through DIA and then we will see how that goes.”
Lamping added that Tuesday’s decision does not change their belief in downtown.
“We believe there are three things we have to do to keep football in Northeast Florida for generations to come. That’s putting a better football team on the field, there’s a lot of work going on in that front…to come up with a long-term stadium solution which we continue to work on and help downtown realize it’s full potential.”
Mayor Lenny Curry tweeting after the vote saying in part, “This sends a clear and negative e message to economic development in our downtown and city. Again, it’s unfortunate but LOT J will not happen. I look forward to continue working on all the needs of our city for all of our citizens.”
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