City proposing $233.3 million in incentives for Lot J development

Jacksonville, FL — A day after Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says a deal has been reached for the $450 million development of Lot J at TIAA Bank Field, WOKV has obtained the proposed terms of the deal, which detail $233.3 million in City incentives.

GALLERY: Sports Complex redevelopment proposal

Speaking with WOKV on Thursday, Curry says the full development agreement is still being negotiated, but he hopes to have that done by later this month or early September. It would then go to the Downtown Investment Authority and City Council for approval, which Curry hopes would mean shovels in the ground in January, to kick off the multi-year project.

WOKV has been digging in to the term sheet, to see what this proposed investment involves.

City incentives

The vast majority of the proposed incentives would be relating to the hard costs of the development itself, with the exception of $25 million over 20 years as a property tax rebate.

There are three main avenues where the remaining $208.3 million would go, if this deal is approved. The term sheet says $92.8 million is for infrastructure improvements, including structured parking, surface parking, environmental remediation, and other site improvements. $65.5 million is listed in the term sheet only as a development grant to "facilitate the development of the Project", which Curry says the Developer can use as the need arises, to ensure the project keeps moving. The other $50 million in proposed City contribution would be as a direct investment in the cost of developing the Live! District, which is a signature of the development partner The Cordish Companies, and which the City would own under these terms.

Curry says the Live! District offers constant programming, which nearby Daily’s Place or the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena does not. The concept is centered on live events, but also includes dining and entertainment.

For all three of those direct investment components, the term sheet says the Developer has the right to shift the funding around. For the Live! District, any unused City funding will be reallocated to other parts of the project, at the Developer’s discretion. The development grant can be spread around various, unspecified “Project uses”, and the infrastructure funding can be shifted to the development grant. Curry says it’s important to not restrict the funding too severely with a project of this scale.

“This allows us to have a comprehensive plan that’s got some flexibility in how the total dollars can be moved around to see this project through to the end,” he says.

The Developer is responsible for any cost overruns in the construction of the overall project.

Curry says he sees this project both as a revenue generator and a springboard for more opportunity in the future. He says improving this area could spur even more development in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“It’s important for Downtown to have something iconic and new and big to get us going, and people living there and working there. But it also has to make sense to taxpayers,” he says.

Curry points to the new private elements of the proposal, which would create new revenue through property taxes, the bed tax, and sales tax. There would be some constraints on that, including the 20-year, 75% property tax rebate proposed as an incentive.

Project details

In terms of the project itself, the term sheet lists five main components: a Live! entertainment district, a luxury high-rise residential tower with 300 units, a boutique hotel with 200 units, an office tower of around 120,000 square feet, and a surface parking lot to be built over the existing storm water retention pond that’s west of Lot J. The term sheet proposes the City transfer the property for the office, residential, and hotel space to the Developer at no cost.

The term sheet does show there is some flexibility in this design, however, listing two areas where the Developer retains the right to make changes depending on market conditions. The first is the office tower and boutique hotel, where the term sheet says either or both could be replaced with more high-rise residential space. Second, the term sheet says the planned high-rise residential tower could be replaced with mid-rise residential buildings of the same overall capacity. If that change requires more space, or if the Developer otherwise wants to expand the project area, the term sheet says the City would give over the development rights to the proposed surface parking lot and/or “other adjacent property”. The term sheet says, while those properties would be conveyed to them at no additional cost, the Developer would expect the City provide additional property tax rebates for the expanded area.

There is no specific mention in the term sheet of what “other adjacent property” means, and whether more parking would be added elsewhere, if the surface lot is developed. While this is included in the term sheet, Curry tells WOKV that the intention of the project is to stay within the footprint that’s been defined.

Parking

The term sheet says the overall number of spaces will be at least comparable to what Lot J currently offers, which is 1,300, however there are some conditions. 700 of the spaces would be on the surface lot and the other 600 would be in part on-street parking, and in other parts incorporated in to the residential tower, boutique hotel, and office space. Tenants of those buildings would have the first right to access the parking spaces, at a negotiated rate.

The term sheet says adjacent stadium lots M, N, and P will also be used for parking.

The City would bring in the parking revenue, under the proposal, but there are caveats here as well, including that the Developer will operate all of the parking facilities and will be paid “at market rate for such services”. The term sheet also says the City will get revenue from all of the parking “up to historic levels”, but the Developer retains the revenue relating to growth “above historic levels”. Curry says experts would be used to calculate that “historic level”.

The term sheet further says that visitors to the project will be eligible for free validated parking at “all available parking spaces within the sports and entertainment complex”. If the Developer does decide to install a discounted validated parking program, instead of free, the revenue from that would go to a marketing fund managed by the Developer to promote the project. Parking revenue from Live! arena events could also be restricted to be put in to a fund for future capital maintenance and investment needs at that venue specifically. That’s one element Curry says is subject to the ongoing negotiations.

In addition to the negotiated rate for the residential, office, and hotel tenants, the term sheet also says there will be a discounted parking program for people who work in the Lot J area or at TIAA Bank Field.

With all of these factors considered, Curry says he still believes this will be a good revenue line for the City to support the operations.

“It’s significant. It’s an important, very important part of the negotiation and the deal that we ended on,” he says.

He says he’s also comfortable and confident in the number of parking spaces that will be in this plan overall, in terms of serving big events in the Sports Complex.

History

The partners in this project with the City are Jaguars owner Shad Khan and The Cordish Companies. Khan has long pushed for redeveloping the Sports Complex and Shipyards areas, because he says a strong and vibrant Downtown is important to the financial health and stability of the Jaguars franchise.

He put out a vision for the Shipyards property across the street from the stadium first, soon after taking over the team. Lengthy negotiations with the City stalled, but when the project scope was reworked, he again won the Master Developer rights. Since that time, the negotiations have been ongoing, and will continue with the DIA through mid-next year.

While that continue, Khan has worked on smaller portions of his overall $2.5 billion vision to redevelop the Shipyards and Sports Complex more broadly. He partnered with the City in the construction of Daily's Place- the amphitheater and flex field adjoining to the stadium- as one components of his initial Shipyards vision. The City has also moved forward with the planned removal of the Hart Bridge ramps in Downtown, which the Jags say block development both because they are a visual barrier to the St. Johns River, and because they divert prospective customers over the area, instead of in to it.

Now, Lot J would be another step toward that broader vision.

There are still many details of this proposal to be released, and it is still pending a vote by the DIA and City Council. WOKV will update you as we learn more about the plan and as it moves toward a vote.

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