JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Tuesday, Jacksonville residents learned more about possible developments at the shipyard site, a new Four Seasons hotel near Metro Park and what is going to take the place of the Jacksonville Landing and other downtown projects along the St. Johns River.
The Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) heard from many of the key players during a meeting, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, about the future of the riverfront projects.
The St. Johns River is considered the gem of Jacksonville. But right now that gem is not shining very bright. That was the purpose of the meeting Tuesday, to update residents about future riverfront projects.
One of the most anticipated sites is the shipyard property. For 20 years there has been speculation about what could be built on the site, but nothing has happened yet.
For now, Jaguars owner Shad Khan has the rights to test the soil near Metropolitan Park but other than that there are no concrete plans other than a Four Seasons Hotel which he hopes to build.
The Jaguars plan is to use a portion of Metro Park where Kids Kampus used to be located. That area is not under federal control like the rest of the park, and with City Council approval, the land could be swapped out for a hotel and medical complex.
But that is creating somewhat of a rift because some are saying no part of Metro Park should be used for private development.
“It’s important to attract that leisure travelers and having the hotel right across from the sports complex is a critical component to that and having it adjacent to a public marina is really important to that and having it next to a park is really important to that,” said Jaguars President Mark Lamping.
Lamping would not say if it would be a deal-breaker if the land swap doesn’t happen.
Swapping out that portion of the park is something the DIA and City Council will have to be considered at a later date.
“The real question here is can moving it be better for the public?” said DIA CEO Lori Boyer.
But that’s not everything the DIA heard on Tuesday. There was also discussion about the former site of the Jacksonville Landing.
DIA has had a number of ideas submitted on what they want to do. Companies are interested in developing the site but the first thing they’re going to do is create a public space then develop outside of it.
DIA also discussed the biggest eyesore on the river — the Berkman II complex.
The developer talked about how he’s going to tear it down and what could take its place. Demolition on the site could happen at the end of March.
Plans for all the projects will be submitted soon to City Council and DIA which means the jewel of Jacksonville could take on a different shine later this year.