JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Representatives from the Jaguars and Jacksonville City Council members held a virtual public meeting to discuss the multimillion dollar Lot J development with the public.
It was a chance for the public to ask questions about where the money is going and a chance for the Jaguars to hear feedback. It was not a question and answer session.
After greeting those attending the virtual town hall, Jaguars President Mark Lamping played a taped presentation, he said, to guarantee his own comments stayed as brief as possible, to allow for more public comment.
During the approximately 15 minute video, Lamping explained team owner Shad Khan’s commitment to making the Jaguars a staple in Jacksonville for years to come.
Afterward, appearing again in person, Lamping explained: Why now, during an economically crippling COVID-19 pandemic?
“Most would agree, one of the keys to improving the quality of life for Jacksonville residents, is the creation and expansion of job and career opportunities,” he said.
Plans for the first phase of the $450 million entertainment project were announced earlier this month, which call for a 50-50 split between the Jaguars and the city. That requires City Council approval.
The city council is waiting for more detailed economic specifics about the Lot J financial plan from Mayor Lenny Curry’s office.
During public comment, many who spoke wanted more answers.
“There’s a lot needed in this town, and that’s a lot of money to give to the Jaguars,” said resident Ray Roberts.
“Daily’s Place. That to me is vivid. I remember seeing the rendering, and I’ve never been to Daily’s Place, I’ve just driven by it. It looks like a giant white igloo,” said resident Gabrielle Dempsey. “So you know what? What you see in a rendering is not always what you get.”
This week, the mayor’s budget review committee agreed to take on $208 million in debt to help fund the $460 million project.
Taxpayers are expected to foot the bill for up to $92.8 million in site construction costs for infrastructure improvements, including surface and structured parking under the current proposal.
City Councilman Matt Carlucci said the development would be one of the largest scale partnerships ever in Jacksonville. He said it’s bringing forth hundreds of emails from people with questions and concerns and so the city wants to address as many as possible.
“It’s nothing just to breeze by a vote on. It’s something we’re accountable to our citizens. Everybody loves the Jags, we love Shad Khan and I’m trying to be a fair broker. I’m trying to be fair to both sides, but I have to dig into questions on both sides,” he said in an interview on The Morning Show earlier this week.