JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Feb. 17, 2015 – The eagerly anticipated vision to transform the Shipyards riverfront downtown property into a vibrant entertainment and leisure district was presented today by Post to Post Links II error: No link found for term slug "jaguars" owner Shad Khan and team president Mark Lamping on behalf of Iguana Investments, a new development entity created by Khan specifically for the Shipyards project.
The vision was presented at the Jaguars’ annual state of the franchise event, where updates involving the Jaguars were shared with City leaders and news media in attendance, and online with the public via live streaming.
The property, which encompasses approximately 48 acres of City-owned property on the north bank of the St. Johns River, is central to Khan’s long-stated vision to bring new life and positive economic impact to Jacksonville’s urban core. By creating a year-round destination that bridges EverBank Field and the Sports Complex to Downtown Jacksonville, Khan said the Shipyards project – should it become reality – promises to serve the entire region for generations to come.
“The Shipyards would give Downtown Jacksonville the kind of iconic identity that many downtown districts in the United States enjoy and we currently lack,” Khan said after the event. “But it doesn’t work or make sense if it doesn’t provide jobs, boost our economy and self-confidence, stabilize the future of the Jaguars franchise and improve our overall quality of life. Our proposal to partner with the City of Jacksonville on this project will achieve this and more.
“The opportunity to make the most of our natural resources and potential as a city is here and it’s long overdue,” Khan added. “It’s time we re-engage with our riverfront, an asset that many cities can only dream of. It’s time to make Downtown Jacksonville the place to be every day of the year, to open a business, spend a weekend or even call home. I am very appreciative of the consideration by Mayor Alvin Brown, the City of Jacksonville and the City Council members who were here today, and I assure everyone in Jacksonville that my commitment to making this happen is unqualified.”
Kansas City-based Populous has provided the initial conceptual design support to Iguana Investments for the project. Ben Stindt, senior architect and principal at Populous, joined Khan and Lamping in presenting the vision on Tuesday. Populous was the original designer of EverBank Field and has worked with the City and the Jags on the EverBank Field improvements project, including video boards and other upgrades.
“It is important for the design and feel of EverBank Field and the Shipyards to work in unison, which made Populous the perfect partner to provide the initial design concepts for the Shipyards,” Khan said. “Populous has been very helpful in assisting us in molding the many concepts and ideas that have surfaced over the past year. We are grateful for their expertise.”
According to the Iguana Investments vision, the goal of the development is to create a modern, urban, walkable destination that connects the Sports Complex and Downtown Jacksonville, activates Bay Street, engages with the Hogan’s Creek Greenway and hosts activities throughout the year. The vision is guided by the principles of embracing the St. Johns River and riverfront, showcasing Jacksonville’s unique character and listening to the market as to what types of development will flourish at the Shipyards.
The site would be developed into a mixed-use district with public park space, a river walk and other uses that may be supported by the market, with potential options including residential, office, retail, restaurants, a hotel, a football-themed public space and a marina. Feasibility studies, market research and due diligence by Iguana Investments and the City of Jacksonville would be conducted to determine the specific types of development that would be thrive long-term at the Shipyards.
“We have been very clear that a stronger Jacksonville, and particularly a stronger Downtown Jacksonville, will equate to a more stable and successful Jaguars franchise,” Lamping said. “The improvements to EverBank Field last year speak to ensuring that Downtown Jacksonville continues to be home to the NFL and the Jaguars, and to current and future major sporting and entertainment events. The upgrades to EverBank Field were the outcome of listening to our customers, and the results have been tremendous.
“Our Shipyards proposal extends that same vision beyond EverBank Field and directly to our downtown, where the project will generate jobs, increase tax revenues for the City of Jacksonville and help to bring more private dollars to our community. As the Jaguars listened to our customers at EverBank Field, Iguana will listen to the market with the Shipyards and work toward a development that will be welcomed by residents, businesspeople, residents, tourists and more. The net result will be a stronger Jacksonville, which in turn will strengthen the viability and stability of the Jaguars.”
Following the presentation today, representatives from Iguana Investments will deliver a proposal to the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) on Monday, Feb. 23. It is the anticipation of Iguana Investments that the DIA will review the proposal during its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 24. It is the hope of Iguana Investments that the DIA will review the proposal and promptly begin the process for a request for proposals.
“We are ready to move forward immediately on this project that is critical to the future of Jacksonville and the Jaguars,” Khan said. “It is our hope that the DIA shares our sense of urgency and resolve. The opportunity to change Jacksonville is here.”
The Shipyards served Jacksonville as a manufacturing and repair center for small ships, barges, ferry boats and freightliners. The Shipyards began to decline in the 1980s, however, and other than a brief period in the 1990s when the site was home to the River City Music Sheds, the property has largely remained vacant and unused.
Since the demolition of the Music Sheds in 2001, the Shipyards has been at the center of numerous failed development plans, bankruptcies and legal disputes.