Jacksonville, FL - Redeveloping the Jacksonville Shipyards could create far more than just an entertainment spark for Downtown Jacksonville.
Three bids were submitted to revitalize the currently contaminated and vacant site on the Northbank, but Monday, we learned the proposal submitted by Jaguars owner Shad Khan ranked best- and by a wide margin.
Part of that is driven by the massive anticipated economic impact. New documents we’ve obtained say Khan’s plan would create an estimated 4,483 permanent jobs and 2,109 construction jobs, while adding more than $123 million per year in general government revenue, like taxes. There is a big ask from the City, but Khan’s group thinks it’s fair and worth it.
Khan’s bid overwhelmingly scored highest and will now be recommended for advancement.
The Downtown Investment Authority is set to vote on that Thursday. If the plan is approved, negotiations would then begin- including how much the City will pay for the redevelopment, whether everything proposed should be included, the timeline for completion and more. The final deal will ultimately have to clear the City Council and Mayor’s Office as well as the DIA.
The three bids were ranked on team qualifications and experience, redevelopment vision, and financial offer and capacity. Khan’s Iguana Investments Florida LLC scored an average 77.33 out of a possible 100 points. Shitaki Enterprises, which had proposed an entirely privately funded development focused on a mega yacht maintenance and repair center, scored 18.33. In Him, which proposed an ark and treatment center funded through Christian tithes, ranked a 4 point average.
While Shitaki Enterprises- headed up by businessman Patrick Mullen- said he had financial backing topping a billion dollars ready to go, he earned almost no points under financial capacity. His bid did not include most of the required information requested by the City. A letter from Eric Smith, who was representing Mullen, said “the City failed to properly or adequately provide the necessary information on the environmental remediation required for the site”, and they did not feel they could provide a more comprehensive proposal without that information.
In Him, led by Stephen Grenda, likewise did not offer much of what the City had requested. One evaluator gave him no points, one 5/35 for redevelopment vision, one 5/35 for redevelopment vision and 2/25 for team qualifications and experience.
Khan’s proposal is based on the concept “Live. Work. Stay. Play.” He notes that revamping the Shipyards is key to revitalizing Downtown- and says that a livelier sports complex would benefit the Jaguars and the stability of the franchise overall.
Khan envisions extensive residential and office space, along with new parking infrastructure, restaurants and retail. Attractions include the USS Adams, a multi-layer practice and community field, an open air amphitheater, and lots of public art.
Beyond the attraction, the vision is more walkable and connected river access as well. The vision includes a “landmark” public park along the St. Johns River, a Northbank riverwalk which connects Downtown to Met Park, and the completion of the Hogan’s Creek Greenway system.
The bid documents estimate the private contribution for this plan to top a half-billion dollars. It further notes that “the Shipyards project is financially challenging”, however, and says public incentives would be “required”.
Khan has requested the City give him the land to develop and pay for the environmental remediation and improvements to infrastructure leading to and around the site- including Bay Street transportation improvements, the Northbank bulkhead, and more. In exchange, the development itself would be mostly privately funded, and the City would be cut in to the proceeds after certain development costs are recouped.
We’ve now learned from the documents that, in addition to some of the infrastructure improvements, Khan believes the City should be a financial partner in some of the “attractions”, including the community fields and USS Adams mooring.
WOKV will be at Thursday’s DIA meeting as the vote takes place, but that is far from the beginning of the countdown.
If the proposal moves forward as planned, Khan’s group estimates 285 days to get all the rezoning and needed approvals in line, 450 days for design and permitting, and 360 days for phase one construction. While some of the initial phase has already been used through the DIA vetting process, it would mean the first phase of the property opening in about three years.
It’s unclear at this time what efforts to augment the proposal- which will likely happen in the weeks following the anticipated DIA approval- would mean for that timeline, the estimated economic impact, and the willingness of the group to move forward with the plan overall.
WOKV will continue to track the progress in this proposal.