JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the Jacksonville City Council prepares for a major vote on Lot J Thursday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said if the multi-million development project adjacent to the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium is not approved now, it never will.
“If you pull the plug on Lot J, it’s gone. If Lot J, if you pull the plug on Lot J, it’s over. It’s not happening,” Curry said. “Let’s be clear. We can debate, they are debating it. The organization is working with them. I’m not going to spend the next two- and a half years every time we present a deal to City Council and people say we need to pull the plug. Some of this is political.”
Curry has pushed for the polarizing project from the start, saying it will be good for Jacksonville and help ensure that the Jaguars will stick around long-term.
There has also been ongoing drama amongst city leaders over the deal.
“Nobody has provided us anything on what these actual hotels and apartments will cost per square foot, but we are spending a whole heck of a lot of money and we don’t know any backup information to justify what we are spending,” Councilman Matt Carlucci told News4Jax this week. “I just think it ought to start over. I think it’s time to just pull the plug on it. The will of the community is just not there.”
In the past couple of weeks, News4Jax has also heard criticism from the local NAACP chapter, claiming this project only enriches billionaires and team owners and only creates minimum wage jobs.
Others, including councilmembers, have voiced support for the project is an investment in Jacksonville’s Eastside and is in the best interest of the city -- and all of Northeast Florida.
Councilmembers have been looking over the details of the $445 million entertainment complex and scrutinizing the proposed city investment of $233 million in direct spending or loans to the developer for Jaguars owner Shad Khan, the Cordish Companies.
News4Jax asked the Jaguars about Curry’s statement Wednesday and a spokesperson said it will wait until the vote Thursday to make a comment.