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Nearly one year after proposal, Jacksonville Shipyards negotiations still ongoing

It’s been nearly a year since Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan came out with his plan for redeveloping the Jacksonville Shipyards.

That year has seen the City’s Downtown Investment Authority solicit bids and, ultimately, decide to move forward with Khan’s plan.  We’ve had the completion of an environmental assessment which found widespread contamination at the Northbank site. Khan has also agreed to split a $90 million tab with the City to renovate the Club Levels at EverBank Field and build an amphitheater and flex field- two components which had been in the proposal- next to the Stadium instead.

Publicly, there hasn’t been much other visible progress with the redevelopment plan, but Paul Harden- who works with the Jaguars on this and many other projects- tells WOKV talks have been ongoing and productive.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And we’re running every day,” Harden says.

He says the environmental issues took a little longer than expected, and they have been dealing with obstacles beyond that, including storm water issues, easements on the property, and more.

“Things that are not unusual in nature, but just because of the scope and size of the project, it will take some time to get where we have to be to move forward,” he says.

They’ve also been tackling the site plan itself.

When Khan came forward with his proposal, it encompassed the concept “Live. Work. Stay. Play.”- including residential and office space, retail and restaurants, and entertainment assets like an amphitheater, multi-layer practice field, the USS Adams, and more. Khan asked the City to clean up the land and give it to his development group, and in exchange they would get a share of the profits after certain costs are recouped.

GALLERY: Shad Khan’s plan to redevelop the Jacksonville Shipyards

The City already has several million dollars set aside for the environmental clean-up, but the clean-up itself won’t begin until there’s an exact site plan, because there are different environmental standards needed depending on the intended use of parcels on the site. When the DIA initially approved Khan’s plan, they had concerns about some of what had been proposed, like if Downtown needed more office space. Harden says they hope to bring in what will work best for the location.

“Whether or not a five star hotel were to go up at that location would depend on whether or not you can fill it up at the price to support a hotel,” Harden says.

DIA CEO Aundra Wallace told WOKV last month that the City is still interested in the project and has had several meetings with the team and Khan’s group. Harden says there was a brief pause when the new Administration came in- in order to allow them to get settled in- but reps with Jacksonville’s new Mayor Lenny Curry have since been helpful trying to work through some of the issues they’re facing.

The slower timeline for the Northbank site is part of the reason Harden says they decided to move forward with the amphitheater and flex field across Bay Street first.

“It’s our hope that the amphitheater and practice facility will be a catalyst for 365-day-a-year activity on that site,” he says.

If the draw and entertainment value of the area rises, he believes the need for residential, retail, and restaurants will follow. Harden says they were always intending to link the Shipyards site up to the Stadium in some way, now they’re just starting there and working down instead.

GALLERY: New amphitheater, flex field coming near EverBank Field

As for what replaces the amphitheater and flex field in the initial proposal for the Northbank, now that they’ve been moved to the Stadium, Harden says that’s still to be determined.

“Response to what the market will demand or allow us to put at that location,” Harden says.

For Khan’s group, opening the new venues and renovating the Club Levels at EverBank Field are the next big benchmarks.

GALLERY: Proposed renovations to Club Levels at EverBank Field

The Stadium renovations are supposed to happen by the next NFL season, and the venues are tentatively scheduled for the Fall. In terms of the Northbank site, Harden says the next benchmark is getting the development agreement, but there’s no timeline yet available.

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