Timeline: Development plans for Lot J at TIAA Bank Field in downtown Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax has been following plans to develop Lot J near TIAA Bank Field for three years.

The City of Jacksonville and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan have been working to bring to the area an entertainment district that would include street-level restaurants and retail, two luxury mid-rise residential buildings and a boutique luxury hotel and a surface parking lot with 700 spaces.

The $450 million Lot J project ultimately failed in January 2021. The resolution needed thirteen yes votes from the City Council to get the official green light, and that did not happen.

Here’s a timeline of how we got here:

JANUARY 2018: The Jacksonville Jaguars first announced plans to turn Lot J into a “mixed-use entertainment complex.”

APRIL 2018: During its State of the Franchise event, Jaguars President Mark Lamping announced a partnership with the Cordish Companies to develop the Lot J area. In a tweet, the Cordish Companies said it would help to bring a “world-class neighborhood for the downtown Sports Complex.”

RELATED APRIL 2018 STORY: Potential impacts on taxpayers of Lot J revitalization

After the State of the Franchise, Jaguars owner Shad Khan talked about the team’s $2.5 billion vision for the area surrounding the stadium, including Lot J and the Shipyards. Khan said at that time that the Lot J development “is an expansion of our previously announced plans for the Shipyards.”

The team also released renderings at that time of what that Lot J and Shipyards development could look like.

RELATED JUNE 2018 STORY: Shipyards/Met Park redevelopment negotiations granted nearly two year extension

OCTOBER 2018: Lamping told Action News Jax the development of Lot J is an opportunity to make sure the franchise remains financially sustainable. He said partnership with the city is important for the development of Lot J.

“I also know 100 percent it has to be a partnership with the City of Jacksonville, and we’ve had very positive conversations with the city. We still have a ways to go,” he said at the time.

NOVEMBER 2018: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said the first step toward Khan’s plans for Lot J and the Shipyards involves taking down the Hart Bridge overpass. He said at the time that work could start as soon as summer 2019.

Mayor Curry first introduced the idea in November 2016 when he asked Duval-area state lawmakers for $50 million to tear down the Hart Bridge ramp elevated over Bay Street.

DECEMBER 2018: The city secures $12.5 million in federal funding for the removal of the Hart Bridge ramps.

The Jaguars are also happy about the ramp removal. In a statement from Mark Lamping, “Removing the ramps creates obvious synergies between the Shipyards and mixed-use development planned for Lot J and establishes a new route for visitors to access the Downtown Sports Complex.”

This clears the way for The Shipyards and the Entertainment Complex at Lot J.

JANUARY 2019: JEA announces its short list of developers for its new corporate headquarters.

Among the finalists is Khan’s proposal to include JEA in the Lot J enhancements.

MARCH 2019: JEA board is presented with three final designs for its headquarters. One design would revamp Lot J at TIAA Bank Field. A second design would put the headquarters at Kings Avenue Station on the Southbank. The third design for the headquarters would develop an empty lot on Adams Street near the county courthouse.

APRIL 2019: During its State of the Franchise event, the Jaguars said the effort to redevelop Lot J would total around $500 million. JEA looked at the possibility of moving its headquarters to Lot J, but instead picks a property on West Adams Street.

MAY 2019: Lori Boyer, former City Councilwoman and the CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority, told Action News Jax’s Jenna Bourne that moving the Shipyards and Lot J projects forward will be crucial to the future of downtown development.

JUNE 2019: In an exclusive interview with Action News Jax’s Tenikka Hughes, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry revealed after weeks of meetings with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s team, some major news on the future of Lot J could be coming soon.

JULY 2019: Action News Jax learned that the city would begin tearing down the Hart Bridge Ramps to clear the way for development of The Shipyards and the Entertainment Complex at Lot J.

The City of Jacksonville also announces that it has reached a deal to develop Lot J near TIAA Bank Field. The city said at the time it would invest a total of $233 million in public money to the Lot J development.

The City will work with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Iguana Development as well as other national partners to develop Lot J.

The changes are expected to include adding a live entertainment center, restaurants and housing, which would all be part of a $450 million project. The city said this would require approval from the Downtown Investment Authority and the City Council.

AUGUST 2019: The term sheet for Lot J is released. On the first page of the term sheet, it details how the project will consist of five uses: a live entertainment district, a luxury high-rise residential tower, a boutique hotel, an office tower up to 120-thousand square feet, 700 parking spots west of Lot J and 600 more parking spots near the hotel and condos.

FEBRUARY 2020: The Jaguars announce they will play two home games in London, leaving fans wondering what this means for the future of stadium improvements and Lot J.

“The timing of this announcement is strategically aligned with the team’s ambitious and big-picture plans for Jacksonville and, specifically, the planned Lot J development,” said the release. “When completed, Phase One of the proposed $500 million Lot J project in partnership with Cordish Companies would feature an entertainment district, a 200-room hotel, residential buildings offering 405 units and additional parking.”

APRIL 2020: As the coronavirus impacts the country, Lamping talked to Action News Jax’s John Bachman and Tenikka Hughes about where the progress of Lot J stands.

Of the continuing removal of the Hart Bridge ramps, he said “It’s significant, it’s a great sign that projects can continue to move even though we’re under uncertain times right now.”

He said the following of the ramp removal continuing and what it means for the future of Lot J: “It’s just another huge step forward. We ... through Shad, principally, continue to be committed to leading the renaissance of downtown Jacksonville. The temporary impact of COVID-19 has not changed Shad’s perspective at all in terms of his belief in downtown Jacksonville.”

AUGUST 2020: The future of the development of the Shipyards is uncertain, but the city remains hopeful. What does this mean for Lot J?

Downtown Investment Authority CEO Lori Boyer tells Action News Jax that modifications to Khan’s plan are ongoing and some buildings planned for Shipyards could end up on Lot J.

OCTOBER 2020: Mayor Curry indicates that Lot J development is back on.

A new Term Sheet for the project is released. The project includes plans for an entertainment district that would include street-level restaurants and retail, two luxury mid-rise residential buildings, a boutique luxury hotel and a surface parking lot with 700 spaces.

That entertainment venue will be a Live! District, a signature of the development partner The Cordish Companies, and the City would own the venue.

According to the new term sheet, if the cost of the hotel and residential buildings is less than $229 million, the city’s contribution will be reduced. The sheet also acknowledges the difference between this proposal and the initial 2019 proposal of the city investment at $233 million.

On Oct. 13, the new legislation was supposed to be officially introduced at the Jacksonville City Council meeting; however, Council President Tommy Hazouri ruled the bill incomplete.

Hazouri said the legislation was missing the development agreement concerning the parking.

The mayor’s office wants to commit more than $152 million as well as an interest-free $65.5 million loan to the developer.

Action News Jax asked Curry how he can assure taxpayers their money won’t be wasted.

“We’ve got protections,” he said. “They got to put money in a trust and certain metrics have to be met dollar for dollar investment and if for some reason the project starts, we have as part of the agreement, guarantees that the city will get money back from the developer.”

RELATED OCTOBER 2020 STORY: Mayor Curry says economic impact of Lot J not part of the deal

City Councilwoman Randy DeFoor told Action News Jax that there is need for an independent financial analysis of Lot J project:

“To say there is no need for an independent analysis on return on investment is irresponsible,” Defoor said, adding, “In my world you would be fired for that.”

NOVEMBER 2020: The Jacksonville City Council on Nov. 5 heard several presentations on the Lot J development project.

Presentations were given from the City Administration, the Jaguars, Cordish Companies, the City Auditor, and the Office of General Counsel.

During the presentations, the City’s administration and the City’s Auditor’s Office gave different reports on the return of investment for the Lot J development. Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes said that for every dollar of city investment, they would gain $1.69. The City Auditor, Kim Taylor, said that for every dollar of investment, the city would only get back 44 cents.

On Nov. 13, it was revealed a new timeline has been set for the City Council’s legislation on Lot J.

  • There will be a Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday, Nov. 19, at 5 p.m. to (approximately) 8 p.m. During this meeting, council members can propose any amendments they want to the legislation.
  • A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 24, during a regular City Council meeting. An additional Committee of the Whole meeting will take place on Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • On that meeting, if the council feels comfortable to do so, they can recommend to move forward with a vote on Dec. 8, during a regular City Council meeting.

On Nov. 12, plans presented to the DIA by Lamping revealed that Khan plans to build and own a Four Seasons Hotel with 177 rooms on what’s now Metropolitan Park.

Lamping said Lot J sets the stage for Shipyards' development.

“Lot J primes the pump,” Lamping said. “These additional developments come along, and the necessity to have a public investment, along with that, reduces significantly.”

On Nov. 16, Khan announced he and his family are donating $5 million to help the Museum of Science & History build a new location at the Shipyards.

A news release from Khan said of the $5 million gift that it “reinforces Khan’s efforts to bring new development to the region, complementing his vision for Lot J.”

DECEMBER 2020: The Downtown Investment Authority gave ‘approval with conditions’ on the Lot J proposal. In its report, the DIA also questions the necessity of the “breadbox loan,” the $65.5 million no-interest loan to the developers.

The City Council postponed the vote on Lot J redevelopment, with then-City Council president Tommy Hazouri saying he wanted the vote to take place after the 1st of the year.

Meanwhile, Councilman Reggie Gaffney, whose district includes TIAA Bank Field, pushed for the project to move forward.

JANUARY 2021: The $450 million Lot J project needed thirteen yes votes from the City Council to get the official green light, and that did not happen.

Lamping said that the decision does not change their belief in downtown.

JUNE 2021: The Jaguars are set to announce new plans for downtown development, which will reportedly include a five-star hotel and a standalone football facility.

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