July 29, 2021
In The Public Interest
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City Council is expected to vote December 8 to approve Jacksonville’s largest single public-dollar subsidy for the high-end development known as Lot J.

Three crucial meetings are scheduled over the next few days:

Downtown Investment Authority: December 2, 2 pm: https://dia.coj.net/Meetings/Upcoming-Meetings/DIA/DIA-Special-Board-Meeting/20201202_DIA-Special-Board-Meeting-Agenda-Packet-(.aspx

Participate virtually: Public comment will be heard at the beginning of the meeting

By Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/91385479538?pwd=bU02WUswQWhacUQ4TjMxNDk0UWozQT09

Meeting ID: 913 8547 9538 Passcode: 287486

During this special meeting, DIA’s board will vote to approve, deny, or amend bill 2020-648 which authorizes the City of Jacksonville to contract with one developer (Shad Khan’s development companies) and finance the Lot J high-end mixed use development. The public dollar portion of the development is estimated at $233 million. The agreement DIA is reviewing “provides for the design, construction, ownership, use, management, operations, costs, and financing” for Lot J.

Background: Mayor Curry and his administration spent two years negotiating the agreement between the City and the developer, an unusual arrangement that exempted Lot J from DIA review. City Council created DIA to review and negotiate all downtown development projects. Though his effort failed, City Council finance chair Matt Carlucci tried to persuade City Council members to require a full financial review by DIA, one that would require a market study and takes weeks to complete. In lieu of that thorough study, City Council asked DIA to conduct a quick study, one taking roughly a week.

City Council Committee of the Whole, December 3, 10 am. – 1 pm:

Participate virtually:

By zoom:

Meeting ID: 998 2829 6421 Passcode: 381187 

Council president Tommy Hazouri decided that the Lot J development agreement warranted special treatment, and assigned discussion of the bill to a Committee of the Whole (i.e., the full Council acting as a committee) rather than review by the normal committee process.

Concern developed over the taxpayer supported agreement when the City Council auditor questioned the lack of detail and the administration’s projected return on investment.

The Committee of the Whole will discuss DIA’s report, a Council auditor update, and decide whether or not the Lot J development bill is ready for vote by the full Council.

December 8, City Council regular meeting: 5 – until

December 08, 2020: 5:00 p.m. – 11:59 p.m. (If attending virtually, please join the meeting by 4:50 P.M.)

Virtual & In-Person Meeting
Physical Location: Council Chambers
City Hall
117 W. Duval Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32202

By Zoom:


Meeting ID: 923 2372 3800
Passcode: 887436

If during the December 3 Committee of the Whole meeting City Council decides it has the information it needs to vote on the Lot J deal, it will do so during this meeting.

Related Developments: Metropolitan Park and “Renovated” Stadium

Metropolitan Park:

The larger vision by Shad Khan and The Cordish Companies for stadium-area high-end developments, being fed to the public in a piece-meal fashion, include building a Four Seasons Hotel on the current Metropolitan Park, a deal that would require the National Parks Service to agree to a Curry Administration request — supported by DIA — to “swap” the current Metropolitan Park land for some comparably-sized property downtown. Created during Jake Godbold’s administration, the Metro Park agreement was to last in “perpetuity.” Curry and the DIA have asked to break that agreement.

Riverfront Parks Now, a coalition of several local organizations, is asking the public to contact the National Parks Service to object to the “swap.”

https://www.scenicjax.org/say-no-to-the-proposed-metropolitan-park-swap/

WHO TO WRITE TO:
Gwen Smith, [email protected] (National Park Service) and Rebecca Wood, [email protected] (Florida Department of Environmental Protection)
With a copy to:
City Council President Tommy Hazouri, [email protected]
DIA Board Chair Ron Moody, [email protected]
DIA CEO Lori Boyer, [email protected]

Renovated Stadium: $400 – $500 million

Last week, Florida Times-Union’s sports reporter Gene Frenette reported that Mark Lamping, Jaguars president, revealed that the Jaguars cannot commit to a lease extension without approval from other NFL owners and that the Duval county taxpaying public needs to be prepared to build a new stadium which he estimated costing $400-$500 million. No mention of what portion the public would be required to subsidize. https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/local/2020/11/24/jacksonville-jaguars-stadium-upgrades-needed-lease-extension-tiaa-bank-field/6400288002/

Be heard: December 2, December 3, and December 8 are your last chances to make comment. Contact City Council and participate.

Written by
Sherry Magill

Sherry Magill is a community leader and retired private foundation executive. She is a co-founder of Jaxlookout.

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4 comments
  • I was Deputy Secretary of the FL Dept of Community Affairs when Mayor Godbold was coming to Tallahassee to seek the funding that was finally used at Metro. Park, It was initially designed to be used for what became the Landing sight, at the Mayor’s request, the funding was changed to Metro Park. Metro Park land was purchased by the City Dept of Housing and Urban Development in the early stages of Urban Renewal in Jacksonville. Mayor Godbold understood that with the transfer of funds, that land was to be a park in perpetuity. Later, a gift of the tent was added to the park land for a stage and meeting area, a gift of a local bank. If there is any contract that indicates it could at any time be used somewhere else, it is an error, as it was understood that land was to be used as a park in perpetuity by the Federal, State, and the City.

  • I have been following everything that is going on in our city by the hands of the Mayor and the City Council. Especially where the Sports arena area is concerned. 1st of all, I resent the fact that Shah Khan has so much pull in this city that our Mayor and Council are willing to give him Carte Blanche to do whatever he wants with respect to the Downtown area around the arena. You all seem to bow down and give him everything at the expense of the taxpayers. 2nd, I think that is reprehensive and reckless to give (and I say give because that is essentially what you are doing) Shah Khan the park that the federal government supplied us a grant to purchase for the people(ie taxpayers). 3. You want us to pay part of the renovations that he wants to do to this area. Did you forget that it wasn’t that long ago that you put the higher seating area on the Stadium. And not that long ago that you made renovations to the elite seats adding pools and upgraded their game experiences. Now you want us to help fund more renovations to the stadium. Have you taken a stupid pill. How much more blood of the taxpayers is it going to take until this finishes and you quit taking money from us for a team that is nothing more than losers. They can’t even perform and win a single game. I am so glad that I am not a supporter of NFL Football. I never have and never will watch or attend one of the Jaguar games. 4. You are already making us pay for the demolition of the Hart Bridge Ramp that was done to please Mr. Shah Khan. Mr. Shah Khan is bleeding us to death. I think that if he wants the renovations done and the new construction of his hotel done, he should put up all the money. We have too many people that are suffering and in need of services to put these plans in action and now you want to add more to the taxes that we already pay. 4. Now lets look at the debacle of our wonderful Mayor Curry(not)that tried to go behind the taxpayers and sell the Public Owned JEA Electric Company and from what I understand is still trying to sell it. If this is owned by JohnQ public shouldn’t it require a public vote to make that sale. Just another thing where we the public don’t matter to the powers that be. We normal people(the ones that live day to day) cannot afford to pay for all this. You sit there in your Ivory Tower and sell our city off piece by piece. I certainly hope that you are proud of the legacy you are creating for yourselves.

  • This is an outrageous, reckless, and irresponsible use of our tax payers’ dollars………….totally UNACCEPTABLE and UNSUSTAINABLE! There are too many negatives to result in a positive
    outcome!

Written by Sherry Magill

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