JACKSONVILLE – Shad Khan believes in downtown Jacksonville.
Khan has said this often, and the Jaguars' owner reiterated the message Monday when discussing the latest steps in the Lot J development – a project he said "is about unlocking our potential in Jacksonville."
"Jacksonville's ceiling is high – remarkably so; that's particularly true here in downtown," Khan said during a Monday press conference at the Dream Finders Homes Flex Field at Daily's Place in downtown Jacksonville to announce the next step in the Lot J development – a $450 million project that would revitalize and reinvent the area around TIAA Bank Field.
"It's imperative that we have the ambition and the vision to answer this calling once and for all. If Jacksonville is to be everything we can be, this project is just the beginning and it's time we begin."
Khan spoke Monday along with Jaguars President Mark Lamping and Mayor Lenny Curry, with Curry announcing the city's level of investment in the project. The city now will put forward the project's term sheet, which will go through the appropriate legislative review with the Jacksonville City Council.
"We've got a term sheet in legislation and we're ready to go," Curry said.
The Lot J initiative is a 50-50 partnership between the Jaguars and The Cordish Companies – which has developed similar projects in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Kansas City and St. Louis. Lamping said the hope is to break ground in 2021, with the hope being to complete construction in 36 months.
"This is part of our commitment to the city of Jacksonville – to have a vital downtown," Khan said. "I said this eight years ago when I was introduced as owner of the Jaguars – that I was going to look for every way to make NFL football viable here. This is just one part of the strategy."
Curry said the project will be "an immediate boost to our economy," creating 2,300 construction jobs and more than 1,000 permanent jobs with an annual economic output of $100 million. He said the total direct public investment is $152.7 million, adding that the Jaguars-Cordish partnership will be responsible for cost overruns and that the taxpayers are "completely protected."
"This is a major investment, a public-private partnership that demonstrates a long-term commitment to our community and its people," Curry said.
Plans for Lot J include:
*Two residential buildings with 400 rental residences.
*A 150-to-250-room hotel.
*75,000 square feet of street-level retail space.
*40,000 square feet of "Class A" office space.
*A 750-space surface parking lot.
*Two 350-space parking garages.
*A 100,000-square-foot entertainment center with multiple bars, restaurants and indoor and outdoor facilities.
Curry said the project will focus on hiring local companies and workers, with a goal of having 25 percent or more contracts going to women- and minority-owned businesses "during construction and throughout operations."
"This project is about much more than just downtown," Lamping said. "If this project does not positively impact all of Jacksonville and each of its neighborhoods, then it will fall short of its intended impact. This is the definition of pioneering effort to change the trajectory of downtown Jacksonville through the creation of a brand-new neighborhood within the sports complex.
"If successful, the catalytic effect will be felt throughout downtown and throughout the region for decades. This is potentially a defining moment for the future of downtown Jacksonville."
Khan also emphasized the project's importance to the city as a whole.
"The entire world today is obviously experiencing extraordinary challenges," Khan said. "There are no easy answers, here in Jacksonville or elsewhere. If we are able to find ways to come together, to rally to a cause or opportunity – if we can do that, we're making progress.
"I truly believe this project can bring us together at a time when we need it the most. This project will reintroduce us, motivate us, connect us and inspire us. We won't have to wait for the ribbon cutting to see it happen. The construction jobs that will be immediately be created alone will signal a new day for Jacksonville. The community benefits will also make an instant impact that will be lasting. The emotional, psychological lift we'll get from seeing cranes and earth-moving equipment in action right here is something everyone in Jacksonville can use – including me.
"That's why I'm proud to invest in this project and our community. Together, we can do it."
Khan on the Jaguars' 1-3 start to the 2020 season: "Obviously, I'm very disappointed – being 1-3 at this point. When I was leaving Cincinnati [following the Jaguars' 33-25 loss to the Bengals Sunday], I was reflecting on that. Then, it dawned on me that two years ago we were 3-1 at this point [before finishing 5-11]. You put it in perspective. It's like life: It's not how you start, it's how you finish. We know what happened a couple of years ago. Three quarters of the season is still left to go and we have to find a way to win."
Khan in the possibility of Jaguars games in London moving forward: "The deal we had with the NFL expired this year. There's nothing on the table right now for one game or more. I think the process might start and we'll see where we are. At this point, there's nothing planned. I want to pursue whatever keeps football viable and important in Jacksonville."