JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A group of African-American community and faith leaders shared their support for the Lot J development project in a news conference Wednesday morning outside City Hall.
The development outside TIAA Bank Field has been a political lightning rod as the City Council has debated the future of the multi-million dollar project.
“There have been so many negative things said about Lot J, but this is a game-changer for Jacksonville,” City Councilman Reggie Gaffney said.
In the past couple of weeks, News4Jax has heard criticism from the local NAACP chapter, claiming this project only enriches billionaires and team owners and only creates minimum wage jobs.
But the group gathered Wednesday pushed back against those claims, saying the Lot J project is an investment in Jacksonville’s Eastside and is in the best interest of the city -- and all of Northeast Florida.
“Long term, it’s going to enhance the city of Jacksonville and surrounding areas because as Lot J grows, other opportunities are going to follow,” Gaffney said.
Councilwoman Brenda Priestly Jackson said that while she supports the project, she wants to make sure there are assurances that Jacksonville’s infrastructure will be improved at the same time that Lot J is being developed and that the amount of money put out doesn’t put the city in too much debt.
Councilman Sam Newby also agreed that the changes should be city-wide.
“I believe that Lot J can be a game-changer for ALL of Jacksonville,” Newby said. “But also I think we need to have a game-changer for all the communities of Jacksonville.”