JACKSONVILLE – The ongoing effort to develop downtown Jacksonville has taken on a significantly different tone since last winter.
The Jaguars and their affiliate real estate development company Iguana Investments unveiled a project on Thursday that aims to create a sustainable future for downtown both economically and environmentally.
The 1st Downtown Jacksonville plan focuses on a community vision where residents and businesses meet with visitors and events in places and spaces that determine the future.
“My goal for downtown Jacksonville is to make other cities jealous and to surprise us and others with the results of our efforts,” said Jaguars owner Shad Khan. “We have to have an inner city with all of this and more; we have to be the spark; we have to be the change to build a team and an inner city that we can all be proud of.”
The Jaguars believe that a championship-level football team will be a major driver of the new vision. The arrival of head coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Trevor Lawrence has brought new hope to the field.
“We are on the cusp of a new era in football,” said Khan. “This just doesn’t feel like another changing of the guard. This is a new era indeed. Urban is a proven winner, as is Trent, and our first-round design picks Trevor and Travis, and it sets the stage for the Jaguars, that move. ” The anticipation is not limited to Duval, there is global interest. “
A strong team with a strong approach to community investment should result in a project that will build both a sustainable soccer franchise and a community that will thrive in parallel.
The vision of the community will be as prominent a feature of downtown Jacksonville as any other building. The Metropolitan Park will be upgraded and protected as a living place where people can “touch” the river bank. The Jaguars are taking over the park as part of a city program and will provide $ 200,000 annually for 20 years to keep the park clean, safe, and accessible.
Neighborhoods like the Out East area north of the stadium with strong cultural and historical roots will engage to foster a stronger and more affluent community that can enjoy the fruits of this deeply ingrained belief in a stronger shared future.
“We spoke to a variety of community and business leaders during this process,” said Mark Lamping, president of Jaguars. “We have always recognized our responsibility to the community and our investment in it. The community part of this story is one that we need to better tell and keep working.”
Groundbreaking is the first phase of the shipyard, which will present a world-class hotel with a distinctive architectural design as a distinctive landmark. In addition to the new Four Seasons, Jacksonville will feature a completely renovated public marina and space for offices, restaurants and shopping. The design will be bigger than just a five-star hotel; local artists will contribute to the project to give the city center and sports complex an undeniable Duval flair. Baptist Health is moving its Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute to a new state-of-the-art facility, and the Khan family has pledged $ 5 million to move the Museum of Science and History to the North Shore.
A new stadium with new soccer facilities will anchor the franchise in Jacksonville for its future. The first phase of planning for a new stadium brought the news that a renovation of the existing building is possible, which could save more than 500 million US dollars on balance. The final design is still a few steps from completion, but in addition to all of the modern features of recently built stadiums around the world, it will provide shade for all seats, wider halls and easier ways to get up and around the stadium.
“Teams and cities that got into trouble didn’t have a long-term stadium plan before their lease expired,” explains Lamping. “That’s why we teamed up with the city about 18 months ago to be one step ahead of the curve and to know what we had and what all stakeholders wanted for the future.”
A new soccer performance center is an important next step. The performance center will both enhance the Jaguars’ ability to compete on the field and hold the Jacksonville Games during the stadium renovation project.
“We’re 100 percent committed to keeping the Games in Jacksonville during the renovation,” said Lamping. “We have a great example of this here in Florida with the Miami Dolphins, who kept working while Hard Rock Stadium was being renovated.”
All football operations will move to the new 125,000-square-foot building with locker rooms, training facilities, coaching offices, meeting rooms and a new indoor facility built to make the football team stronger and more competitive. It’s also designed to demonstrate the Jaguars’ long-term commitment to downtown Jacksonville.
“Our owner’s commitment to building a successful team is second to none,” said Meyer. “We talk a lot about a culture of excellence that means the best of the best. If it’s not the best, we’ll change it and improve it. That will be the best and give us the chance to compete and win at the highest level. “
The Jaguars will share the cost of the new football performance center with the city, despite the current lease that requires city dollars to fund the team’s training facilities.
“We had a choice: to continue to maintain an average NFL stadium and a below-average training and training facility at the city’s expense, or to find a way that creates something new with both public and private funds,” said Lamping. “We are excited to be ambitious with these projects and to show our commitment by investing in urban assets.”
The schedule has yet to be set, but the process with the Downtown Investment Authority and Downtown Development Review Board is ongoing. The hope is that this endeavor will succeed with the eventual approval of the city council.
“If the city council sees this as good for the city, then the project will move forward,” offered Lamping. “I feel so much stronger on this project because we’ve talked to so many more people and asked what people want. If that is the case, let’s get started.”