Jags’ ‘huddles’ spark questions about area surrounding ‘stadium of the future’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was a full house Friday at the Extreme Wing Sports Grill next to Naval Air Station Jacksonville for the Jaguars; fourth “Huddle Up” community meeting.

The Jags have been sharing with residents about the $2 billion in upgrades to TIAA Bank Field but we have not heard much about the plans for the surrounding area around the stadium -- what used to be the Lot J project.

Wilbur Sweet was at Friday’s meeting and shared his thoughts about developing the area surrounding the stadium.

“Well, I would like to know, if it gets approved, is it going to bring in more jobs downtown? And I would like to know about the vacant lot...what do they got over there, what did they purchase over there? Is there going to be more restaurants, and all kinds of other stuff,” Sweet said.

As part of the plan, the old Lot J project is being revived. There are not many renderings of it, but it will be discussed in the upcoming negotiations with Mayor-elect Donna Deegan.

Jaguars President Mark Lamping discussed the sports district, which would be in addition to the Four Seasons and office building currently being constructed across from the stadium.

“Well, what you’re going to see is a mixed-use development, that includes housing, that includes retail, if the University of Florida comes, it’ll probably include student housing, as well as, entertainment for certain--may include a hotel, it depends on the scale of the development. So when talking about Lot J, you know, I think, the fact that it was mixed-use, that’s very similar. Will the deal be the same as Lot J? This will be part of a much bigger deal,” Lamping said.

The city council voted down the first Lot J development plan more than two years ago.

Despite the plans being discussed now, negotiations for development really won’t begin until July when Deegan and the new administration take office.

The Jags say they hope to sign a new deal by mid-2024. If not, they said the price tag of the project could increase.

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Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.