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Auditor: City would make 44 cents for every $1 spent on Lot J project

Council auditor’s Lot J profit projections much lower than those presented by Mayor Curry

During a special Jacksonville City Council meeting Thursday, more details become public about Jacksonville’s proposed $218 million investment into a new entertainment complex at Lot J near TIAA Bank Field.
During a special Jacksonville City Council meeting Thursday, more details become public about Jacksonville’s proposed $218 million investment into a new entertainment complex at Lot J near TIAA Bank Field.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – During a special Jacksonville City Council meeting Thursday, more details become public about Jacksonville’s proposed $218 million investment into a new entertainment complex at Lot J near TIAA Bank Field.

The project has the potential to be the biggest incentive project in Jacksonville for a single project.

Lot J is a proposed 50-50 partnership between the city and the Jacksonville Jaguars that has been in the works for two years and Thursday was the first time the full city council was taking up Lot J during a special meeting.

During the meeting there were many numbers tossed around — a total cost of $445 million, with the city’s commitment around $218 million, along with a $65 million interest-free loan to the developer.

The council auditor addressed the issue of cost and how that plays into the agreement, pointing out that the investment may not turn a profit for the city.

In fact, the auditor said that for every dollar spent, the city would make just 44 cents. The mayor’s office had stated a much higher number of $1.69 for every dollar spent.

Mayor Lenny Curry stressed to the council that they need to act now.

“Let me absolutely clear, we are at a crossroads for downtown. Local national and global development interest are watching the decisions we are about to make and they want to know are we ready to be bold,” Curry said.

Many members had questions about the city’s obligation.

One of the concerns is the commitment of the Jaguars and the team’s owner Shad Khan.

Team President Mark Lamping said the team is committed but he also talked about the team’s current losing streak.

“We must put a much better football team on the field. We have not delivered on that,” Lamping said.

News4Jax asked Lamping to clarify how that plays into the team’s commitment to Jacksonville and the Lot J project.

“It starts with a better football team. We have to come up with a solution for the stadium long term. We also believe that having downtown Jacksonville relies on its full potential,” Lamping said.

News4Jax asked if that means the team needs to be better for Lot J to work, Lamping said no.

During the meeting council members had similar concerns.

Councilwoman Randy DeFoor says information on the deal is missing and questions who will come out ahead on the deal.

RELATED: Poll finds most people in Jacksonville oppose city’s stake in Lot J

It’s not anticipated that council members will sign off on that plan at the special meeting.


About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.