JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville's proposal to lure Amazon to build its second headquarters in the River City includes an offer of acres of waterfront land between downtown and the sports complex.
Jacksonville is one of 238 cities to pitch the retail and internet giant. The video proposal submitted by the city and Chamber of Commerce shows a futuristic Jacksonville with high-tech buildings and an expanded Skyway system. In addition to the free land, the proposal promises a high-tech workforce and a lively living environment.
Because the Amazon project could be a $5 billion development and bring 50,000 jobs, cities around the country are offering extravagant incentives.
The centerpiece of Jacksonville's bid is the donation of a 200-acre swath of land between the "office district" and EverBank Field.
The land Jacksonville is offering includes the Shipyard property, which has a pending development deal with a company led by Jaguars owner Shad Khan. It's the latest of several projects for that location. Previous development plans fallen through.
Not everyone is sure downtown is a great fit for Amazon. Small businesses downtown said growth is important, but the Amazon deal may be too much this part of the city.
"I don’t think it’s the biggest or the most beneficial thing for Amazon to come to an area like this," said Patrick Anilus, of Market Research International. "They need more of a rural area. That makes more sense."
In the last year, Amazon has opened two fulfillment centers, one at Cecil Commerce Center on the Westside and one near Jacksonville International Airport.
Mayor Lenny Curry doesn't feel the Amazon offer is too generous and feels that the deal would pay for itself.
"The tax dollars they will generate will far exceed those incentives over time, which means more tax dollars come in from those jobs, from the property taxes they generate. And we can use those funds to invest in our neighborhoods," Curry said.
In a statement released Thursday, Curry praised the work that has gone into the city's proposal and touted the positive economic impact Amazon could have here:
I greatly appreciate and value the work City staff and the Chamber have led on the development of this proposal. Proposals are a first step that communicate our genuine interest, commitment, and vision for a project. This Amazon project, like any other project we pursue, will be negotiated against a scorecard to ensure it provides a return to taxpayers and contributes to job growth and economic development. We will continue to work hard on this deal that would result in over 50,000 jobs for Jacksonville.