It was at the State of the Franchise in 2015 that Jaguars owner Shad Khan first unveiled his proposal for redeveloping the Jacksonville Shipyards.
Now, just a few weeks after negotiations on that bid were called off, Khan used the 2017 State of the Franchise to put their latest vision forward. It's one of three proposals that will be vetted by the City, as they look to finally breathe life in to the property once and for all.
The City is now seeking someone to redevelop the broader Riverfront property, which includes the Met Park parcel.
“We really like the Met Park site, upon reflection, and the City decided to expand the project to include both, and we couldn’t be more excited about that,” says Jags President Mark Lamping, who led the presentation on the proposal.
Khan’s plan keeps the overall amount of greenspace and park space, but moves that westward, to the most contaminated area of the property. Their intent is to get around some of the areas that have the greatest environmental concerns for redevelopment, by leaving those areas intact. If they avoid breaking ground on the most contaminated land, that lightens the mitigation they would need, according to Lamping.
The new, more central park would be themed around veterans. An elevated pedestrian bridge would also serve as some park space, modeled after New York’s High Line.
The easternmost portion of the property includes some mixed-use exhibition space, residential property, and a high end hotel that connects to the stadium through a pedestrian bridge. Moving west, there is entertainment space and a continuous Riverwalk. Lamping says this proposal is very focused on interacting with the St. Johns River, including featuring several water taxi stops. The park area would follow, with more residential space being on the western edge of the property.
“It changes the footprint, changes the vision a little bit, but I think it still has all the impact on how we can change Jacksonville for good,” Khan says.
The proposal includes Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry's plan to remove the elevated Hart Bridge ramp, which is something the Florida Department of Transportation is currently studying. It also envisions building several parking garages as part of a later phase, although those garages would not be directly on the Riverfront portion of the property.
The City issued a request for proposals earlier this year, with today being the deadline. WOKV has confirmed that Khan’s- through Iguana Investments Florida, LLC- is one of three proposals that were submitted. Khan says he welcomes other ideas, and- if he’s not chosen- he would fully support whoever is.
"If Shipyards happens, Jacksonville is gunna win, we're [the Jags are] gunna win. I think it's very important for that development to happen. It's been thought about for years, I think it's time for it," he says.
When asked about the price tag for the project, Khan said his focus was on creating the best experience overall. He declined to give further details on the financing proposal at this time, saying more details on that would come forward if they’re selected. Khan’s prior redevelopment plan included both private and public funding.
When the prior proposal stalled, the Jags took some things in to their own hands, partering with the City to build an amphitheater and flex field next to the stadium. We're told there are about 35 concerts planned for the inaugural season, including a concert the night before each Jags home game.
WOKV has confirmed Presidium Group, LLC and Wess Holdings, LLC are the other two entities who have submitted proposals. We have reached out to see if they’re willing to offer details on their plans at this time. The formal proposals themselves will not be released as the City begins vetting the plans and working to make a selection.
Khan has faced competition before- there were two other proposals when the City previously solicited bids for the Shipyards redevelopment. Khan's was the only one that did all the needed paperwork, showed the financial backing, and fit the overall vision for the area, though. The Downtown Investment Authority formally proceeded with negotiations in April 2015, but after a year and a half, those were called off and the new bid- which encompasses the greater property, was put out. Despite that, Khan says he's not frustrated.
“You give your best effort. If it doesn’t go the way you want it to, you get up, dust yourself, get going again,” he says.
Lamping says, if they’re selected, he imagines there would be a few months of negotiations before work could begin. Ideally, he says they would be able to start construction early next year and complete the work over five to six years.