City to solicit proposals to develop combined Metro Park, Shipyards

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Downtown Investment Authority is discussing the biggest project in the agency's brief history -- the development of two, large open stretches of prime real estate along the St. Johns River.  

The proposal would combine the existing Shipyards and Metropolitan Park properties into one 46-acre acre.

Last year, a proposal by Shad Khan's Iguana Investments LLC to develop the Shipyards as a major residential, retail and commercial development for the Shipyards property along Bay Street basically died when the city learned it would have cost at least $35 million to clean up groundwater contamination on the site.

Metro Park’s Pavilion was demolished over the past few months. With the construction of an amphitheater in the south end zone of EverBank Field, the city said there are no plans to rebuild a performance space at Metro Park.

At its meeting Wednesday afternoon, the DIA voted to seek requests for proposals (RFPs) on Jan. 4, with a March 6 deadline for submission. 

The jump-started idea to develop the land has many Jacksonville residents excited.

"Even just a park, or having the concrete actually finished to go to the rest of the sidewalk and not having a fence around it, it would be nice," said Sarah Derrington, who lives near the Shipyards. "There's nothing there. You're basically looking at a blank concrete block."

Jacksonville City Councilwoman Lori Boyer, who sits on the DIA, expects Khan's firm to submit another proposal.

"From my perspective, I'd be more than happy to work with Mr. Shad Khan and appreciate the investment he's made in the city already," Boyer said.

After the city awards its favorite bidder, it will have 18 months to have a final agreement with the bidder before it's presented to the City Council. 

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