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Jaguars ready to move forward with $500 million development of Lot J
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Jaguars ready to move forward with $500 million development of Lot J

Jaguars ready to move forward with $500 million development of Lot J
Photo Credit: via Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars ready to move forward with $500 million development of Lot J

The Jacksonville Jaguars want to move forward with redeveloping Lot J near TIAA Bank Field, and they believe that effort will total around $500 million.

During the annual “State of the Franchise” event, Jaguars President Mark Lamping contended that the effort is already underway, through the pending removal of the Hart Bridge ramps in Downtown. The City, State, and federal government have committed equal funding shares to demolish those elevated lanes and bring traffic right down to Bay Street.

“This is really the project, the necessary first step, to unlock the full development potential of the Shipyards and Lot J,” Lamping says.

Lamping says they believe work will get underway after this upcoming Jags season, and the City is hoping the project will be done by the end of 2021. Developers see the ramps as a visual barrier between the Complex and the River, and as a road that brings prospective customers up and over the development, as opposed to through it. The hope is that bringing traffic down to Bay Street will support retail, restaurants, and other development in that area.

As for the development of Lot J itself, Lamping outlined the four components- a live arena, 200-room boutique hotel, more than 300-unit residential tower, and office building. He says they have a hotel operator prepared, and Cordish Companies- the partner on this whole project- would manage the live arena. To move forward, what they need now is City approval.

“I’m confident, given the Mayor’s agenda and belief in having Downtown grow and have it be significantly more desirable for people to work, for people to live, and for people to visit, that as long as we focus on their shared goals, I have no doubt that we’ll reach an agreement, and then it’ll be up to the City Council to hopefully ratify that,” Lamping says.


Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is, in turn, signaling support.

“I look forward to the city being involved in solidifying a development agreement with the Jaguars and their plan for Lot J. This is a very important piece of the puzzle for the continued growth and expansion of our sports and entertainment district, downtown Jacksonville and the overall economy,” Curry says in a statement to WOKV.

The push to develop Lot J hit a recent hiccup. JEA had been considering Lot J, Kings Avenue Station on the Southbank, and West Adams Street near the County Courthouse as possible sites for their new corporate headquarters, and they ultimately chose Ryan Companies’ proposal for West Adams Street. JEA and its hundreds of employees would have been an anchor for the Lot J development, also creating a customer base for surrounding development.

GALLERY: JEA headquarters proposal for Lot J

In announcing its decision, JEA’s Board concluded the Ryan Companies had been more responsive and presented a bid that would best suit customers and employees. Board Chair Alan Howard tells WOKV the role of JEA is not to be any kind of economic catalyst.

“What I personally believe is it’s not like Jacksonville Downtown has so much going for it, that we can afford to lose the opportunity to bring a catalyst, something that will deliver other development,” Lamping says.

He says he thinks JEA could have been a part of that vision, but says he nonetheless wishes them the best of luck and hopes for their success. Lamping says, at this time, they do not have a tenant committed to the proposed office space, but they have some entities who have shown interest.

Lot J is just one part of the overall redevelopment of the Sports Complex that Khan is pursuing. For years, he has contended a healthy Downtown- especially in and around the stadium- will mean a financially healthy football team.

via Jacksonville Jaguars
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Sports Complex redevelopment

Photo Credit: via Jacksonville Jaguars

That effort has led Khan to twice pursue redevelopment of the Shipyards, along the St. Johns River. While the first effort faltered, he was selected for a second time as the Master Developer of the site, which was expanded to include Met Park. Khan’s team continues negotiations with the City on that proposal, and they have through mid-next year to come forward with a plan.

“This has been a little bit slower and, yeah, you could say a bit frustrating, but you know I think we’re as determined as ever, ready to get it done. Because I believe in it,  I think the Jaguars and the community really need it. It’s like anything else, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And we need that, and we need to keep the momentum going,” Khan says.

While the overall Shipyards effort has taken a long time, Khan has pulled elements out of the plan. Daily’s Place- the amphitheater and flex field at TIAA Bank Field- are examples of that, as Khan separately partnered with the City to build those, instead of waiting for the broader development. He also separately put forward a proposal for a Convention Center and hotel on the Shipyards property, as a competing bid when the Downtown Investment Authority was looking to put up a Convention Center a few blocks away at the old Courthouse and Annex site. The DIA not only did not take up Khan’s bid, but recently, at the request of Mayor Lenny Curry, decided to put aside the Convention Center plans altogether.

GALLERY: Shad Khan’s proposal for the Jacksonville Shipyards

Khan says a lot of the heavy lifting for the Shipyards has already been done behind the scenes, through coordination with various levels of government. He hopes to have visual proof of progress soon.

As for Lot J specifically, there will be an ask for public dollars, but the exact amount is not yet clear. Khan says they will look at areas like parking, environmental work, and infrastructure. The development plan itself- including some of those financial details- has not yet been put forward.

Lamping says time is of the essence, because they want to ensure Downtown is healthy in to the future. He says the population has been shifting to the Southeast, and they need to balance that out before there is a tipping point that leaves Downtown behind.

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  • Three Indiana circuit judges who were involved in a drunken fight outside an Indianapolis White Castle restaurant in April -- which ended with two of the judges being shot -- have been suspended by the Indiana Supreme Court. Two Clark County Circuit Court judges, Andrew Adams and Bradley Jacobs, and Crawford County Circuit Judge Sabrina Bell were disciplined in the ruling handed down Tuesday. Adams was suspended without pay for 60 days, while Jacobs and Bell were each suspended without pay for 30 days. The judges engaged in judicial misconduct that was “not merely embarrassing on a personal level; they discredited the entire Indiana judiciary,” the unanimous ruling states. “All three respondents joined in a profane verbal altercation that quickly turned into physical violence and ended in gunfire, and in doing so, gravely undermined public trust in the dignity and decency of Indiana’s judiciary,” the justices ruled. The suspensions are serious black marks on the judges’ records. “A suspension from office without pay, regardless of duration, is not a minor sanction,” the ruling states. “Even more than a public reprimand, any such suspension is a significant blemish on a sitting judge’s reputation.” >> Read more trending news  The near-deadly incident took place on the night of April 30 after all three judges traveled to Indianapolis to attend the Spring Judicial College the next day, the high court’s opinion states. The Spring Judicial College, initiated in 2000, is a professional development conference for judicial officers from across the state. After checking into their hotel rooms, Adams, Jacobs and Bell spent the evening socializing and drinking with others attending the conference. Around 12:30 a.m. on May 1, the trio met up with Clark Circuit Court Magistrate William Dawkins at a local bar, where they kept drinking, the opinion states. They attempted to go to a strip club, identified in charging documents as the Red Garter Gentleman’s Club, around 3 a.m. but found it to be closed, the document says. That’s when the four judges walked to a nearby White Castle. As Dawkins went inside the restaurant, Adams, Jacobs and Bell remained in the parking lot, where two strangers, Alfredo Vazquez and Brandon Kaiser, drove by, the ruling says. The men, both of Indianapolis, shouted something out the car window at the group. “Judge Bell extended her middle finger to Vazquez and Kaiser, who pulled into the White Castle parking lot and exited the vehicle,” the opinion states. “Judge Bell, who was intoxicated, has no memory of the incident but concedes that the security camera video shows her making this gesture.” The two groups began a heated argument, “making dismissive, mocking, or insolent gestures” toward one another, the document says. At no time did the judges try to leave to avoid the confrontation or de-escalate the situation. That’s when the fight turned violent, authorities said. Charging documents indicate the judges moved toward Kaiser and Vazquez prior to the fight turning physical. Adams and Vazquez began punching and kicking one another, while Jacobs and Kaiser wrestled one another on the ground, according to the charging documents. “At one point, Judge Jacobs had Kaiser contained on the ground. With his fist raised back, Judge Jacobs said, ‘Okay, okay, we’re done, we’re done,’ or ‘This is over. Tell me this is over,’ or words to that effect,” the court ruling states. Vazquez tried to get Jacobs off of Kaiser, at which point he and Jacobs began tussling, the charging documents say. As Kaiser began to sit up, Adams kicked him in the back. Kaiser pulled out a gun and opened fire, shooting Adams once in the abdomen and Jacobs twice in the chest, the ruling states. Bell immediately called 911, the document says. It states she also attempted to stop the fight prior to the gunfire and sought help from people inside the White Castle by banging on the door. Adams and Jacobs were rushed to different hospitals, where Adams underwent two emergency surgeries, including a colon resection, the ruling says. Jacobs also underwent two surgeries and remained hospitalized for two weeks. Adams’ serum blood alcohol level upon admission to the hospital was 0.213, or about 0.157 using whole blood, the justices wrote. Jacob’s serum blood alcohol level was 0.177, or 0.13 using whole blood. Blood serum is the fluid left behind after blood coagulates, or clots. The legal limit for intoxication in Indiana, like most states, is 0.08. Bell’s blood alcohol level was not tested, but she was “intoxicated enough that she lacks any memory of the incident,” the ruling states. The judge, who was taken to the police station to give a statement, told investigators she did not remember what she said to Kaiser and Vazquez, or what started the physical fight. “However, while on the scene, the media videotaped Judge Bell telling police detectives, in an excited state, ‘I feel like this is all my fault’ or words to that effect. Judge Bell does not remember making this statement,” the ruling states. Footage from RTV6 in Indianapolis appears to show a tearful, obviously distraught Bell telling an investigator, “I feel like this is my fault.” The video shows her pacing and repeatedly running her hands through her hair. After being told that detectives had video of the incident, Bell told them in a recorded statement that she was afraid she instigated the incident that left her fellow judges seriously injured. “We’re all very good friends, and they’re very protective of me,” Bell told detectives. “And I don’t know, and I’m afraid that I said something to those two strange men at first, and then they said something back to me. And then I said something and then (Adams and Jacobs) went to defend me.” She acknowledged getting “mouthy” when she drinks, the documents says. “I mean, I fully acknowledge that I drink and get mouthy, and I’m fiery and I’m feisty but, if I would have ever thought for a second that they were gonna fight or that that guy had a gun on him, I would never, never,” she said, according to the court. On May 3, two days after the shooting, police released surveillance footage of the two then-unidentified men with whom the judges had brawled. The footage, broadcast by multiple news stations, shows Bell, Adams and Jacobs standing outside the White Castle as Kaiser and Vazquez pull up in an SUV. As the two men walk toward the door of the burger restaurant, they appear to stop and turn toward the judges as the verbal sparring begins. Kaiser, 41, and Vazquez, 23, were arrested four days later, according to The Associated Press. Kaiser initially faced charges of attempted murder, battery, aggravated battery and carrying a handgun without a license. Vazquez initially faced a charge of assisting a criminal, the AP reported. A special grand jury on June 28 indicted Adams on two counts of felony battery resulting in moderate injury, four counts of misdemeanor battery and one count of disorderly conduct. Jacobs was also targeted by the grand jury investigation but ultimately faced no charges. Bell was not under investigation. Adams was suspended from the bench the day the indictment was handed down. He pleaded guilty on Sept. 9 to a single count of misdemeanor battery resulting in bodily injury, for kicking Kaiser. The rest of the charges were dismissed, and he was sentenced to a year in jail, with all but two of those days  suspended, the ruling states. He was given credit for two days served and spent no time behind bars following the sentencing. The Indianapolis Star reported at the time that Adams showed remorse during his sentencing hearing, apologizing to his wife and children, as well as to the court, the state judiciary and the State Bar Association. “This was a regretful situation and an incident that will not happen again,” Adams said in court, according to the Star. See a video on the case by the Star below. Marion County Judge William Nelson, who presided over Adams’ criminal case, said it was not an easy task, the newspaper said. Nelson was at the judicial conference in Indianapolis when he learned that Adams and Jacobs had been shot. “Little did I know I would be sitting here (judging) you,” Nelson said. Marion County court records show that Kaiser, who is scheduled for trial in January, faces a total of 14 charges, including eight felony charges. The charges include aggravated battery, battery by means of a deadly weapon and carrying a handgun without a license. Vazquez, who was ultimately charged with seven felony and misdemeanor crimes, took a plea deal and was sentenced Nov. 1 to 180 days of home confinement and a year of probation on one misdemeanor battery count and a probation violation, the Star reported. He was on probation at the time of the fight for a drunken driving conviction. “I am remorseful. I feel bad,” Vazquez said in court, according to the newspaper. The state Supreme Court took into account several things when handing down the judges’ suspensions, which were agreed upon by all three judges, according to the ruling. It states that none of the judges had prior disciplinary history, and they accepted responsibility and showed remorse. All three have seen counselors since the incident and have cooperated fully with the probe into their actions, the ruling states. Bell’s attempts to stop the fight and her immediate actions after the shooting were also taken into account, according to the document. Read the Indiana Supreme Court decision in its entirety below. Indiana Supreme Court Ruling by National Content Desk on Scribd “The purpose of judicial discipline is not primarily to punish a judge, but rather to preserve the integrity of and public confidence in the judicial system and, when necessary, safeguard the bench and public from those who are unfit,” the ruling states. The News and Tribune in Clark County reported that Adams admitted in a written statement that he had failed to live up to the standards of his position. “I am fully aware of the embarrassment I have brought to the Indiana judiciary, my family and specifically my community,” Adams said in the statement obtained by the newspaper. “There is not a minute in the day that I don’t think about the significant repercussions my actions have caused. “I take full responsibility for my actions as they neither met my expectations or the expectations placed upon me as a judicial officer.” He apologized to both his family and the community. “I am thankful this matter has come to a resolution and for all the prayers and support as I continue to recover from this incident,” he said. “With God’s grace, I look forward to returning to work and continuing to serve our community. I hope that the community can accept my sincere apology and remorse for my actions.” Jacobs’ attorney, Larry Wilder, expressed similar sentiments on behalf of his client, stating in a news conference that Jacobs nearly lost everything on May 1. “Today I submit myself to my family and my community and ask forgiveness for my choices on that day,” Jacobs said in a statement read by Wilder. “I wholeheartedly apologize for my behavior that evening that has embarrassed the Indiana Supreme Court, my fellow judges and all the members of my chosen profession. I cannot offer any excuse for the events of that evening nor do I attempt to offer any excuses for those choices.” Bell, who the News and Tribune reported represented herself in the proceedings, could not be reached for comment by the newspaper. Bell, who has served as a circuit judge since 2017, will begin her suspension on Nov. 22 and return to the bench on Dec. 23, the ruling says. Adams, who took the bench in 2015, has been on interim suspension since his criminal charges were filed. He will return to his position Jan. 13. Jacobs, who was sworn in on the same day as Adams in 2015, will, like Bell, begin his suspension on Nov. 22 and return to the bench on Dec. 23.
  • Officials closed all public schools in Roanoke, Virginia, Thursday as police searched for a former U.S. Marine accused of killing his mother's boyfriend in nearby Franklin County. >> Read more trending news  Sheriff's deputies said Michael Alexander Brown, 22, is wanted on suspicion of shooting and killing Rodney Wilfred Brown, 54, last week at the home his mother and Brown shared in Hardy. Here are the latest updates: Update 3:20 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Roanoke City Public Schools officials said the shelter in place order was lifted Thursday afternoon after a search for Michael Alexander Brown, 22, turned up no sign of the man. Authorities said Brown is wanted on a second-degree murder charge following the shooting death last week of his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Wilfred Brown, 54. He remained at large Thursday afternoon. Update 9:30 a.m. EST Nov. 14: Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Michael Alexander Brown, 22. Franklin County sheriff's deputies said Brown is wanted on a charge of second-degree murder after his mother's boyfriend, 54-year-old Rodney Wilfred Brown, was found shot dead last week at his home in Hardy. Deputies said Brown deserted his post last month at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where he served as a combat engineer. Thursday's search was prompted by the discovery of his car on a road in Roanoke, officials said. 'It was unknown where Michael may be headed or where he has been staying since leaving his post,' deputies said Sunday in a news release. 'He has been known to live in the woods and frequent National Parks and National Forests. He is believed to be armed with a high-powered rifle and may have access to other weapons.' Deputies urged anyone with information on Brown's whereabouts to contact authorities at 540-483-6662. Update 8:17 a.m. EST Nov. 14: According to WSET, Roanoke police believe Michael Alexander Brown, who is wanted on a murder charge, was 'in the Roanoke area' and may be armed. According to NBC News, Brown, 22, is facing a second-degree murder charge in the Saturday shooting death of 54-year-old Rodney Brown. Police said Michael Brown, who had been a combat engineer at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune before he deserted last month, 'is most likely on foot and possibly looking for transportation,' WSET reported. The suspect, who is white with brown hair and blue eyes, stands 6 feet tall and weighs 145 pounds, WDBJ reported.  Original report: Police in Virginia are 'actively investigating a situation' near a Roanoke's Patrick Henry High School, authorities said early Thursday. As a result, all of the district's public schools are closed, WFXR and WDBJ are reporting. Please return for updates.
  • Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin conceded the gubernatorial race to Democrat Andy Beshear on Thursday amid a recanvass of vote totals. >> Read more trending news  Beshear declared victory last week over Bevin after election results showed the governor closely trailing him. According to The New York Times, Beshear led Bevin by 5,300 votes. Beshear received 49.2% of votes to Bevin's 48.8%, the outlet reported. >> Read the latest from our Washington Insider, Jamie Dupree Update 2:25 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Bevin announced Thursday that he wouldn't contest the results of the election as recanvass totals appeared to affirm the results of last week's election, according to the Courier Journal. He wished Beshear luck during a news conference Thursday, according to Kentucky Public Radio. Beshear, who is the state attorney general and the son of former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, will be sworn in next month, Politico reported. Update 3:45 p.m. EST Nov. 6: Bevin formally requested a recanvass of the vote Wednesday afternoon, according to Kentucky's Secretary of State Alison L. Grimes. A recanvass is not a recount, but rather a check of the vote count to ensure the results were added up correctly. Bevin could also seek a recount in court. Grimes said the recanvass was scheduled to take place Nov. 14 at 9 a.m. Original report: 'Tonight, voters in Kentucky sent a message loud and clear for everyone to hear,' Beshear, currently Kentucky's attorney general, said in a victory speech late Tuesday. 'It's a message that says our elections don't have to be about right versus left; they are still about right versus wrong.' Beshear, whose father, Steve Beshear, served as governor from 2007 to 2015, added that he hoped Bevin 'will honor the election that was held tonight,' the AP reported. >> Watch Beshear's speech here But Bevin was not ready to give in. 'Would it be a Bevin race if it wasn't a squeaker? I mean, come on,' he said. 'I mean, really and truly, this is a close, close race. We are not conceding this race by any stretch.' He added that 'we truly don't know' who the next governor will be. 'Whoever it is will be the one determined by the process being followed, by the law being followed, by the process being truly sound,' Bevin said, claiming that there may have been unspecified 'irregularities.' >> See Bevin's speech here Democrats hailed the results as a win against President Donald Trump, who supported Bevin and appeared with him at a rally in Kentucky on Monday. Meanwhile, Brad Parscale, Trump's campaign manager, released a statement saying the president 'just about dragged Gov. Matt Bevin across the finish line.'  Trump echoed the sentiment in a series of tweets early Wednesday and pointed out that Republicans won five of six statewide races. Read more here or here. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Saying it will make the facility so much better, leaders of the Florida Theatre officially launched a capital campaign to complete a $10 million renovation ahead of the 100th anniversary of the downtown landmark.   WOKV first reported about the renovation plans in July, when Mayor Lenny Curry’s budget outline offered up $1 million each of the next five years to match the Florida Theatre Performing Arts Center, Inc, which is the nonprofit that runs the historic venue. Total contribution from both parties combined at $10 million.  INDEPTH: Once in a generation - Florida Theatre looking at $10 million in renovations, upgrades To date, 72 donors have pledged or gifted $2.2 million toward the campaign that quietly began more than two years ago. The Theatre also instituted a $2.50 per ticket fee on all ticket sales that goes to restoration of the facility. That is projected to bring in approximately $1.5 million over the next five years.   “We’re a little over $7 million towards our $10 million goal as of today so we are super excited about all of this”, said Florida Theatre President Numa Saisselin.  Mayor Lenny Curry reflected on the decades of performances he has attended through the years at the Florida Theatre, and he looks forward to seeing the improvements come to fruition after funding was approved.  “Often times usually in a budget as large as ours some real jewels that are in the budget kind of get lost in the conversation so it’s good to be here today because this really is a jewel and a special nugget in the budget that we just put forward”, Curry said.   Theatre operators want to keep the same feel but install completely new seats. Plans involve better addressing ADA regulations- the seating arrangement now pre-dates those rules, according to Saisselin, so while the venue is in compliance, it is not always an ideal arrangement. Beyond that, there are a few different areas to address, with the auditorium remaining the focus. He says they want to upgrade the sound and lighting systems. Not only will this make for a more enjoyable show for you and the artist or event involved, but he says it could actually save FTPAC some money in the future, because currently, if an artist wants a certain speaker setup, the Florida Theatre may have to rent equipment, as an example. Over 3,000 people attend Florida Theatre every week, or 175,000 per year, according to Saisselin.  The work also includes renovating the bathrooms.  Air conditioning is another item on the list- updating the system so that there’s not a constant need for repairs. The iconic marquee and canopy are also in for some work, although Saisselin says they are not changing the overall look. Digital signs were recently installed at the Florida Theatre as a result of funds from a private donor, but Saisselin says there is still internal wiring work to do on the canopy, along with structural repairs. While the canopy and marquee are not original to 1927, Saisselin says he knows it’s how people recognize the venue, and they want to respect that.
  • A woman who disappeared after leaving a college football game in Athens has been found safe. >> Read more trending news  Update 11:45 a.m. EDT Nov. 14: The Athens-Clarke County Police Department said Linda Christine Tryon, 42, was missing since Saturday, Nov. 9.  Athens police found the woman and said she was unharmed. Original report: There's an urgent search underway for a Georgia mother last seen after leaving a college football game in Athens. The Athens-Clarke County Police Department said Linda Christine Tryon, 42, has been missing since Saturday, Nov. 9.  Tryon was last seen in the downtown Athens area during the University of Georgia vs. University of Missouri football game.  According to friends, Tryon left the game after the first quarter and went downtown to a bar. 'This is completely out of character,' a friend of Tryon told WSB-TV. If anyone has any information about her whereabouts, they are urged to call 706-613-3345.

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