Shad Khan's company shows plans for 1st phase of Shipyards development

Iguana Investments plans convention center/hotel on Jacksonville riverfront

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jaguar owner Shad Khan's Iguana Investments released plans Thursday for a convention center and hotel on the Shipyards property along Jacksonville's Northbank, between downtown and the sports complex.

This comes one day after the city accepted bids for a convention center at the site where the abandoned City Hall and Duval County Courthouse are awaiting demolition.

Plans and renderings delivered to the Downtown Investment Authority show the project would tie in plans to build an entertainment complex proposed for Lot J of TIAA Bank Field.

"The Shipyards is the optimal and obvious site for a new Jacksonville convention center. First, you have the prime riverfront access and the sense of being a true destination that only the Shipyards can offer,” Khan said in the statement. "Then, you have the synergies with the existing sports venues plus the anticipated mixed-use development planned for Lot J."

Jaguars President Mark Lamping told News4Jax that Phase 1 of the Shipyards, including the convention center and hotel, would cost $425-450 million.

There's no indication yet of what incentives the city would be asked to provide for the project, or timetable for when the DIA would review or approve the project. 

"We certainly would expect this would be a partnership with the city," Lamping said. "Major projects like this don’t happen unless there is a partnership between the private investor and the public, and we expect the city to be part of this."

Lamping said the Hart Bridge ramp will have to come down before this project can go forward. Mayor Lenny Curry has proposed $12 million in next year's budget to make that happen, but they were hoping for state funds to help with that project.

"We look forward to continuing the discussions and seeing what best serves the plans to continue making downtown an economic hub that pushes job creation and economic growth for the entire city," Curry's chief of staff, Brian Hughes, said in a statement.

In a release, Khan's company said the combined convention center and hotel would contain 490,000 square feet, including an exhibit hall and several ballrooms with views of the St. Johns River. The plan is the first major step in delivering the vision of a Shipyards development Khan first shared three years ago. 

This proposal was created by Iguana Investments in partnership with the joint venture of Rimrock Devlin Development, a Jacksonville company, and the DeBartolo Development Company, of Tampa.

History of Shipyards projects

Khan's plan is far from the first attempt to develop the riverfront property since the Jacksonville Shipyards closed in 1992.

1994 - The Satulah Group submitted a proposal to turn the shipyards into a marine park and marketplace.

1995 - Jacksonville Riverfront Development Inc., a partnership between the Satulah Group and San Francisco developer John Hanan, purchased the property. 

Late 1990s - Shipyards buildings converted into the River City Music Sheds, a place for concerts and special events.

1999 - Trilegacy Group LLC. purchased shipyards site with the intention to build warehousing facilities.

2001 - After being convinced by Mayor John Delaney, TriLegacy's plan changes to a major mixed-used development nicknamed the Billion Dollar Mile that would include 662 residential units, 100,000 square feet of retail, 1 million square feet of office space, a 350-unit hotel, a 150-slip marina and a 16.8-acre park. The remaining shipyards industrial buildings, known as the River City Music Sheds, are demolished in anticipation for this development. 

2005 - After Trilegacy failed, which generated a grand jury investigation of the city's $40 million investment in the project, LandMar took over the property with plans for a massive mixed-use development.

2009 - LandMar filed for bankruptcy and the city foreclosed on the site.

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