Jaguars share vision for Lot J entertainment district

Renderings show restaurants, bars, hotel near downtown Jacksonville stadium

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jaguars fans got a look Thursday at what the team has in store for next season, including plans for a major development of Lot J to the southwest of the stadium in downtown Jacksonville.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan and President Mark Lamping shared their vision for the entertainment district at the annual Jaguars State of the Franchise.

The focus for the development around the stadium, at least in the near-term, has shifted from the Shipyards to Lot J.

Renderings show what the Jaguars dream Lot J can become. Office buildings, restaurants, bars and a hotel are envisioned for the lot, along with a riverfront park and docks.

The Lot J development proposal also includes a parking garage with 3,000 spaces, which would be placed where the pond now sits.  

It's a very big vision, but over the last few years, Khan has made it known that when he wants to do something, he wants to do it big.

He said, logically, developing the massive lot has it's challenges, but it's also something they believe can be accomplished. 

"Some things have already started since we talked about the Shipyards. The amphitheater and practice facility are good examples," Khan said. "We want to focus on what we control and really work with the other parties to make it happen. We are going to be driving forward because I think this is absolutely paramount for the Jaguars to be stable in this area."

The hope is that Lot J will become a place people want to go to, and not just on game day.

But much like the Shipyards, there are challenges to building there. The team has conducted studies on the soil underneath the lot, and know some remediation may be needed.

Lamping said large pieces of concrete underneath could be another challenge.

"What we are going to have to do, in terms of the peering and structural support for those buildings, is to work around those factors," he said. "We think it is achievable. It’s not easy, but construction techniques today are significantly different than they were just 10 or 15 years ago."

Lamping said the team and other development partners will invest a lot of cash in the project.  But there would also need to be some public money to make it all happen.

Another thing they need is for the ramp from the Hart Bridge to come down. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry agrees,

"We are pursuing $25 million from the federal government in grants to help with that," Curry said. "As you heard today, first, it's an economic engine issue to the port, but it has the added benefit of economic development downtown."

Khan and Lamping both said the development doesn't change or replace their desire to ultimately develop the Shipyards, but they believe the Lot J plan will be easier to get approved. 

The goal would be to start with the lot and work downtown.

Khan said as soon as they are able to get everything approved, they are ready to move on it.