Mayor Curry calls failed Lot J project ‘a loss’ for Jacksonville


Mayor Lenny Curry believes personal feelings could have gotten in the way of progress – during City Council’s vote on Lot J, Tuesday night.

That’s one of the things he discussed when Action News Jax Courtney Cole interviewed him this afternoon.

The bill died in city council chambers on Tuesday night. It was shy just one vote necessary to move forward.

12 councilmembers voted ‘yes’ and 7 voted ‘no.’

Local News: JSO: Pandemic lockdown means less people out in the public, which means less tips to human trafficking

It required a super majority of 13 votes, instead of just a majority, which is usually just 10 of the 19 council members voting in approval.

The Lot J proposal required a super majority, because it would have required a change to the budget—which was already approved in Fall 2020.

Any proposed changes to an approved budget, requires a super majority vote from city council.

Mayor Curry said it’s loss for Jacksonville, because Lot J would have been a “transformative” development.

Some of the city council members who voted ‘no’ believe the mayor wasn’t transparent enough throughout the process.

But during Wednesday afternoon’s interview, he rejected that idea.

He explained he was just fulfilling his role under the Executive Branch of government: negotiating a deal, bringing the bill to council and leaving it to councilmembers to discuss.

“I was upset, I feel like it would’ve been something good for everyone in the community,” said Haley King.

Many woke up Wednesday morning feeling like King, confused about why city council members did not pass the deal for downtown development.

“It’s a bummer, it really is,” King Told Action News Jax.

Councilman Garrett Dennis, of District 9, was one of the 7 councilmembers who voted ‘no’ to Lot J.

“I’ve always said that I supported the development of Lot J. But I could not vote, support a deal that fleeces the tax payers and this deal fleeces the tax payers,” Dennis said.

Councilman Michael Boylan, of District 9, was one of the 12 councilmembers who voted ‘yes’ to Lot J.

“I just kept my eye on the end result, which was the impact on the neighborhood, the thousands of jobs it would’ve created for construction folks in the area and the on-going jobs thereafter, the willingness of the Jaguars and the developers to help build up that area of the city,” Councilman Boylan told Action News Jax Courtney Cole.

The $450M project included $245.3M in public incentives.

There was a $65M breadbox loan that councilmembers could not agree on, as well.

“This was a big proposal, that was a part of, a big part, of the financial viability of this team and Jacksonville. It was a proposal where Shad [Khan] was going to invest hundreds-of-millions of dollars of his money. He was bringing in a nationally known developer, internationally known, developer. And it sends the wrong message,” said Mayor Curry.

When Cole asked Mayor Curry why the citizens of Jacksonville should trust that any plans for the Shipyards will come to fruition, he told her: “We should not, likely will not, find ourselves in another situation where you need 13 votes. We know that there are 12 councilmembers that are committed to—not only the entire city—but the team and downtown development. Of those 12, we will need 10 on those future votes. I believe that with good faith and continued communication, that Councilman and Becton and Councilman Ferraro, I think there may be some downtown deals that they would be willing to work with us on. They have been nothing but consistent.”

King told Cole she’s not so sure the Shipyards won’t end up like Lot J.

“I don’t have very much hope that that’s going to take off. I don’t really know how to explain what they want out of us, or how they expect us to trust them,” King told Action News Jax.

She also wonders what this means for the Jaguars.

READ: COVID-19 Pandemic: Wolfson Children’s Hospital sees 300% spike in emergency visits relate to mental

“It seems like they could possibly leave now, right? Is anyone worried about the Jaguars leaving?” King questioned.

When Mayor Curry was asked about the Jaguars possibly leaving town, he mentioned talking to Jacksonville Jaguars President, Mark Lamping today and Jaguars Owner, Shad Kahn, two days go.

In his next 2 ½ years that remain in his term, Mayor Curry said he will continue to focus on improving communities throughout Jacksonville – including Downtown.