DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. — 11:30 P.M. UPDATE: The discussion on the shipyards proposal was postponed at the last minute in Tuesday’s city council meeting.
The topic was pushed back to the next city council meeting because members wanted to make sure the right people are available to answer questions from the council when it is discussed.
On Tuesday evening, after more than a year in the making, Jacksonville City councilmembers will hear a proposal for the Shipyards along the St. Johns River, which includes building a new luxury hotel.
“I’m so excited because this is what we want to see, economic development and movement,” said Councilman Reginald Gaffney, who represents District 7 in downtown Jacksonville.
The plan now hinges on their approval.
It would include a Four Seasons hotel with dining, retail and office space.
“I think that’d be great,” said neighbor Larry Glass. “You know, anything to bring activity back down to the downtown, especially since they did remove the Landings. That stuff would be a great idea.”
The Downtown Investment Authority gave the $400 million project the green light back in early July.
It would involve moving a part of Metropolitan Park West, and adding a new park along the Riverfront. The project would cost the city about $25 million (depending on building costs), and the Jaguars have committed about $301 million.
“Sister companies that are affiliated with the Jaguars are going to follow them,” Gaffney said.
“Some of the people in Jacksonville say we can’t afford it. But look. When economic development starts coming, others start coming.”
So, if you build it, will they come?
Kristi Sweeney, an associate professor of sports finance and economics at the University of North Florida, says yes; but to keep them around, stadium renovations and residential projects are key.
“It’s kind of the cart before the horse,” she said. “For me as a taxpayer and as a fan of the Jaguars, I would rather see the investment into the stadium itself.”
Her and Gaffney both agree on one thing, though: this is just the beginning.
The city itself will not comment on this until the council has had a chance to review the proposal, which you can find here.
The city council has six weeks from today to submit an official vote on it.
That meeting starts at 5 p.m. tonight.
We will have live coverage of these developments at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.
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