"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" no more: Jags owner unveils proposal to redevelop Jacksonville Shipyards

Live. Work. Stay. Play.

It’s the vision behind redeveloping Jacksonville’s currently vacant Shipyards- which we got a detailed look at for the first time today.

“Beautiful stretch of Jacksonville riverfront connecting and linking Downtown to the Sports Complex- and it’s sitting empty and neglected,” says Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

Khan says he first saw the need to redevelop the area in Downtown on his first drive to the stadium back in 2011, which he likened to a trip down a “boulevard of broken dreams”.

“Front door to Downtown Jacksonville with no porch light, no welcome mat- really didn’t make sense,” Khan says.

Ever since that time- but really picking up steam mid-2013- he’s worked on a proposal for bringing life back in to that part of town.

VIDEO: Watch the Shipyards proposal unveiling video

The overview we’ve now obtained divides the area in to roughly four concepts- although all are connected along the riverfront and themed in a unified nautical way to honor the history of the Shipyards.

GALLERY: Renderings of the Shipyards redevelopment proposal

The ‘Live” portion is furthest from the stadium- a mix of residential, recreation, and restaurant space, along with the marina. The “Work” portion is next, with office space and other commercial and mixed use designs. “Stay” comes after that, with a signature hotel, more restaurants and other office or rental space- somewhere conventions could be held. Closest to EverBank Field is “Play”- community parks, and amphitheater, and other entertainment options.

The multi-layer field is one of the pieces we’ve gotten hints about before, although this vision is a unique concept.

“It doesn’t look like a typical facility, it really respects the river,” Khan says.

It would be a practice space for the Jacksonville Jaguars which is elevated and stacked under another field. It wouldn’t be walled in, allowing for fresh air to get through. This portion would have football theming, but the Jaguars themselves are not a big part of the rest of the design. I asked Khan why, and he tells me the concept is about the City, not his ego.

“It [the Shipyards] was here way before my time, hopefully it’ll be here way after my time,” Khan says.

The plans also include a home for the USS Adams, as efforts continue to bring the ship to Jacksonville to convert in to a naval museum.

The concept uses a lot of nautical theming and materials which are intended to integrate in to the riverfront. There is a lot of elevation among the buildings to provide a lot of opportunities for shade. There’s also a high focus on public art, walkability, and connectivity.

Khan says he’s completely committed to this project, although it will be a public-private partnership. He declined to say at this time what the proposal envisions as the contribution from the City- which could include giving over the land, incentivizing the development, funding some of the development, or other financial commitments. He says they are formally submitting the proposal to the Downtown Investment Authority on Monday, and more details will be available at that time.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a partnership, absolutely. I’m committed to his vision one thousand-percent,” says Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.

Brown says he is confident the City will step up to support the proposal.

“It’s visionary, it’s iconic, and it really, really is going to put Jacksonville on the map in a really significant way,” Brown says.

I asked whether he plans to move forward with dealing with the environmental clean-up that needs to happen at the site- which Khan has previously said he would expect the City to do. Brown said he didn’t have any firm plan at this time, but believed it would happen. He further said he believes that portion of the project will be a partnership between the City, State and Federal government.

As for timeline, Khan says he’s ready and willing to move forward, but respects the public process required of proposals like this.

WOKV will continue to follow the plan as it moves over to the City. Send us an Open Mic on the News 104.5 app letting us know if you support the proposal.

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