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
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:
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
117 W. Duval Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
Meeting ID: 923 2372 3800
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
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.”
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.