More questions than answers after heated meeting over Lot J project

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many questions remain about the status of the proposed Lot J project that would build a $445 million entertainment complex outside TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.

A meeting Thursday night that was created to answer some of those questions was derailed as the Jacksonville City Council president, council members and the mayor’s staff traded barbs.

Now, News4Jax is taking a closer look at the some of the details of the plan, which were originally supposed to be discussed, but were overshadowed by the events of the meeting.

RELATED: Special meeting on Lot J project filled with finger-pointing, name-calling

The cost of the project would be split between the city and the Jaguars.

When the plan for the Lot J project was announced in October, Jaguars President Mark Lamping said it could be built in three years. Now, as the proposal is scrutinized and awaiting City Council approval, we are learning that it could take seven to 12 years to get done.

Many of the detailed questions were answered in a report from the council auditor. Some answers came from the Jaguars and the development team, but they were not fully addressed Thursday night. In fact, the auditor said some key information was still missing.

One of the main concerns is contamination at Lot J. The area would have to be cleaned and permits issued in order for any residential structure to be built. The cost to do that would be part of the city’s price tag.

In a report, it spells out the cost of cleanup, which could run around $77 million. The report lays out a timeframe that could take 12 years for everything to be done but Lamping says things could happen much sooner.

RELATED: Mayor Curry pushes back against concerns that Lot J project is being rushed

Council members have also voiced concerns in the past about the Jaguars pulling out of the project and selling it off to another developer. Lamping gave them some assurance.

“We won’t sell for five years after substantial completion,” he said.

The Downtown Investment Authority is also doing its own review of the project and might make recommendation to the council. The mayor’s office and Jaguars had hoped this could get approved by the end of the year.

The plan was to meet again Dec. 3, but City Council President Tommy Hazouri is not sure when it will happen.

“It’s probably time for a little cooling off period. Not because of last night, because the information is not there yet and I’m sure they’d like to see it move along,” Hazuori said.

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