Cost, benefit, demand: Questions the DIA wants answered on new Shipyards proposal

A lot of questions have been answered by new details submitted on Shad Khan’s proposal to redevelop the Shipyards on Jacksonville’s Northbank, but for every one answered, the Downtown Investment Authority has come up with another.

“Cost to the City of this terms sheet, what the potential benefits are to the City, and what’s an appropriate process,” says DIA Chair Oliver Barakat.

The DIA decided today they hadn’t had enough time to try to get some of these answers because the Terms Sheet for the proposal was submitted just yesterday. So rather than moving forward with this proposal, they’ve called a special meeting for next week, giving staff some time to do research and let them have a move informed conversation.

DOCUMENT: Shipyards proposal terms

Barakat says his hope is to get more information specifically on whether there's demand for what's been proposed, how long it would take to realize the vision, and what kind of bill would fall on the City. We got a better idea through the terms sheet of what the City would pay for under the current proposal, but there's been no price tag affiliated with that yet.

“There’s nothing in that term sheet the City hasn’t offered to other folks who, obviously, didn’t put it in the end zone,” says Paul Harden, a lawyer who is working with Khan’s investment group Iguana Investment Florida, LLC.

He says they expect a lot of back and forth, but are hoping the DIA moves forward quickly. He told the board that he realizes the vision is big, but Khan has an "unwavering commitment" to benefit Jacksonville.

“We’re confident that the city is in a position to do what they need to do,” he says.

The City would be on the hook- under the proposed terms- for improving Bay Street and the Hogan’s Creek Greenway, creating a continuous Northbank Riverwalk, and environmentally cleaning the entire site. Under the terms, the land would also be given to the developer. In exchange, the development itself would be privately funded and the City would get 20% of land sale profits after Iguana recouped some expenses.

GALLERY: Renderings of the proposed Shipyards redevelopment

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown declined to say exactly where the City could come up with the money, if this proposal is chosen, but he believes they can find a way through more private partnerships as well as the state and federal government.

“It can happen, you just have to make sure that you work with the right stakeholders,” Brown says.

Despite the City having other large, looming financial commitments- like the police and fire pension obligation and dredging JAXPORT- Brown says redeveloping the Shipyards needs to be a priority.

“Create more jobs, increase property value, put more people to work- I think that’s the key,” he says.

For the DIA to move forward on this proposal, they first would have to see if there are any other interested parties in the land. Barakat says he hasn’t heard of anything at this time, but it’s possible all the hype over the last week has created a buzz.

“45 acres along the river abutting a growing Downtown may peak other developers interests,” he says.

There will likely be a 30 day period for any other bids to be submitted, once the process moves forward. From there, if Khan’s plan is chosen, the closer scrutiny begins.

Barakat says everything is still wide open to negotiations at this point. Harden agrees, saying they look forward to the discussion with the City and DIA.

The DIA CEO says Iguana did use prior DIA studies when putting this proposal together, so on the surface he says it fits with their overall vision for Downtown.

WOKV will continue to track the debate on this proposal and to dig for more answers on the ultimate cost. You can always send us an Open Mic on the News 104.5 app letting us know whether you support the proposal.

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