Shipyards/Met Park redevelopment negotiations granted nearly two year extension

Jacksonville, FL — Negotiations over redeveloping Downtown Jacksonville’s Northbank Riverfront could last another two years.

The Downtown Investment Authority has granted an extension on the timeframe to negotiate and reach a deal, after DIA CEO Aundra Wallace made the request. The timeline previously approved by the DIA Board required them to approve a term sheet, prepare a Redevelopment Agreement, and gain approval from City Council- all before September 17th, 2018.

Now, Wallace and interested parties have through June 30th, 2020 to make a deal.

Last April, the DIA chose Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan and his group- Iguana Investments of Florida- to redevelop 70 acres along the Riverfront, consisting of the Shipyards and Met Park. Khan had actually been previously chosen to redevelop the site when it was only the Shipyards, but negotiations stalled in that effort, and in December 2016 the DIA formally moved to solicit new bids for the expanded project.

While Iguana was excited about the larger redevelopment site, incorporating Met Park has brought obstacles. In asking for the extension in negotiations, Wallace specifically cited encumbrances on Met Park that resulted from past state and federal grants as something that’s taking time to resolve. Wallace also says they’re dealing with the environmental contamination on the Shipyards site, as well as other land use planning issues- all reasons why he requested the extension.

Despite that, Iguana is standing by its vision, which includes moving park space closer to the core of Downtown, meaning more development opportunities near the stadium. The group also wants a continuous Riverwalk, residential property, mixed-use space, and more. Khan and Jags President Mark Lamping have repeatedly said that a vibrant Downtown will only help the franchise in the future.

GALLERY: Shipyards and Met Park redevelopment

Just because the Shipyards and Riverfront redevelopment is now getting more time to come together doesn't mean there will be a shortage of projects Khan is pursuing around the stadium. During the Jaguars State of the Franchise this past April, the team unveiled a $2.5 billion redevelopment plan for the Sports Complex. The first phase of the project would be removing parking from TIAA Bank Field's Lot J and putting up a hotel, live arena, office space, and more on the site. A public parking garage would be constructed nearby, to offset the loss of parking.

The long-term vision for the complex includes a convention center, park, upgraded marina, and more.

Khan previously said he believes the Sports Complex redevelopment should be a public/private partnership, but declined to say how much he would be seeking from the City. Wallace says an incentive package could be presented late this year or early next year, and it would require City Council approval.

Another project that will ultimately tie in to these developments is the removal of the elevated Hart Bridge ramps in Downtown. This "Talleyrand Connector" project has $12.5 million from the City and $12.5 million from the State already funded, which will cover the removal of the structures and other early components. The City had applied for a $25 million federal grant for the rest of the project, but did not receive that. A City spokesperson tells us they still plan to move ahead, and will work on a funding source for later parts of the project.

This all comes after the City and Jags already teamed up to build Daily’s Place- an amphitheater and flex field that connects to the stadium. The venue is used for Jags practices as well as concerts and other events. The team says it has already proved to be an important source of local revenue.

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