DIA passes Lot J recommendations on to Jacksonville City Council

Council will have special committee meeting on project Thursday

The DIA board voted Wednesday night to pass on a report to City Council that recommends the Lot J project with changes. The developer already agreed to some, but a $65-million loan could be a deal breaker.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority on Wednesday voted to pass a report on to the City Council, which recommends the Lot J project with changes.

The DIA was asked a week ago to weigh-in on the $445 million partnership. It would develop Lot J outside TIAA Bank Field in a deal between the city and the Jaguars owner, using a developer named The Cordish Companies.

MORE | Downtown Investment Authority recommends approving Lot J ‘with some conditions’

Mark Lamping, the Jaguars president, has asked for at least a yes or no vote from council as soon as their next regular meeting Dec. 8.

“We’ve spent millions of dollars to get to where we are right now,” Lamping said. “And when you go through that process, the expectation is you know where the goalposts are. Doesn’t mean you’re going to score but you know where the goalposts are, and to have the threat of moving the goalposts, I just, I think that’s the wrong message.”

Board members Wednesday debated which of the DIA recommendations needed to go to City Council for a special Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday.

The biggest issue seemed to be what’s called a breadbox loan of up to $65.5 million. Lamping stopped just short of calling it a deal breaker.

“The dollars are fungible as far as we’re concerned as long as they get into the project. But if the ask is, we want you to reduce the public investment by $65 million, than the project doesn’t go forward,” he said. “If there is a renegotiation on the public investment and it says that the public investment is going to be decreased by $65 million, the project is no longer viable.”

Mayor Lenny Curry’s office sounds confident, but council members still have questions heading into Thursday morning’s crucial meeting, and at least one member hopes the Jaguars would wait on a decision if needed.

“They’ve waited this long to get this deal done, I’m sure they would be willing to do that,” said City Councilman Michael Boylan. “And they’ve acquiesced in a lot of things. I think for a lot of us guys like myself who take these kind of things very very seriously that they would understand that.”

The DIA’s approval with changes is just a recommendation for City Council about Lot J. All 19 City Council members are scheduled to take part in Thursday’s meeting where they could decide to put the measure on their agenda Tuesday night.

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