Jaguar President Mark Lamping said Khan’s “actions speak for themselves” in his commitment to the Jaguars “playing in Jacksonville forever”.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The tense debate over the proposed Lot J development will pause on vacation after Jacksonville Jaguars president Mark Lamping said Tuesday it was “completely understandable” that the city council would wait until January for a final vote via the development agreement.
Lamping’s comments during a city councilors meeting on the Lot J project put development partners – Jaguar owner Shad Khan and The Cordish Companies – in line with the schedule that City Council President Tommy Hazouri set for the vote over the weekend in early January.
Hazouri’s decision could have been subject to rebellion if enough city council members wanted to come up with legislation for a decision this week before the holiday break began. But with the jaguars on board there won’t be an override.
An override would have had to contend with a high bar at the regular council meeting on Tuesday, requiring the support of a majority of 13 out of 19 council members. It’s not clear if the votes are still there to seal the deal.
According to Lamping, the developers had hoped the legislation would get a vote during the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, the original target date for the bill, when councilors began their review in early November.
Lamping said: “There is no question that these reflections have resulted in constructive give and take that has resulted in positive changes to the proposal that will benefit everyone.”
“That is the most important thing, and therefore the decision to take the time over the holidays to review the revised documents before a vote in January is completely understandable and one that we support,” Lamping told the councilor at a meeting Reggie Gaffney had convened the regular council meeting hours earlier.
The proposed development would include up to $ 233 million in city investments and incentives to build a Live! Entertainment district, at least 350 apartments in two medium-sized buildings and at least 120 boutique hotel rooms on land, now used as Lot J in the downtown sports complex.
Alderman Randy DeFoor said taxpayers would make a huge investment and should be able to return $ 150 million to the city in liquidated damages if the Jaguars don’t stay in Jacksonville after the current rental period, which expires in 2030.
DeFoor said this clawback “keeps everyone honest” and ensures the city doesn’t have the cost of Lot J “wrapped around its neck” when it begins lease negotiations.
“You are asking this town for more than $ 200 million and we just take your word for it that you will stay here in Jacksonville and if that is the case this should be a gimme for you.” Said DeFoor. “It shouldn’t be a problem at all. I find it insulting, frankly, that you wouldn’t agree to that.”
Lamping said Khan’s “actions speak for themselves” in his commitment to the Jaguars “to play in Jacksonville forever”.
Lot J: In a public meeting with CM Gaffney, Jags Pres. Mark Lamping says the deal has been revised and the developers were hoping for a vote tonight but understand and accept to wait until January to give the council time to review the changes. @ FCN2go pic.twitter.com/NOqj9KqoJ2
– David Jones (@DavidJonesTV) December 8, 2020
He said that in the nine years since Khan bought the team, San Diego and St. Louis lost their teams, but Jacksonville is still an NFL city, even though the lease would allow the franchise to be a “free agent.” “to be when one moves without paying a financial penalty to the city.
Khan is taking a financial risk by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements to the city stadium and downtown development, but he is not asking for a clawback to get his money back if the city does not agree to upgrades at the stadium, the NFL – Meets standards and a lease extension, said Paul Harden, attorney for the team.
“It really works both ways,” said Harden.
He said if Khan wanted to move the franchise he had a chance to think about it.
“Don’t you think for a minute that people didn’t encourage him,” said Harden. “Don’t think for a minute that he didn’t get a lot of pressure. He likes Jacksonville.”
City Councilor Danny Becton said his constituents don’t understand why the city’s cost of developing Lot J is so high that taxpayers and the development team split between $ 50 and $ 50 for a total of $ 450 to $ 482 million would.
Becton took out a $ 65.5 million interest-free “breadbox loan” that is part of the city’s share of the cost. After the city provides the $ 65.5 million, 20 percent of that would be placed in an escrow account, where that $ 13.1 million would be invested until it grows to $ 65.5 million and goes back to the city in repayment.
The structure of the Breadbox loan would put $ 52.4 million in the hands of developers, so Becton said it really should be viewed as a grant.
Lamping said it was not a traditional project “because this is basically the creation of a neighborhood” in the sports complex that will create a vibrant downtown area.
“If this neighborhood is created and functioning that we believe can, it will generate waves and waves of benefits for the city in the future,” said Lamping.
Jordan Elsbury, Mayor Lenny Curry’s chief of staff, said the framework of the 2019 tentative deal used a cash grant of $ 65.5 million. However, this was changed during the negotiations as the federal tax law required the developers to pay part of the grant to the federal government in income taxes.
He said the conversion to a breadbox loan means the city’s money “stays in the project” rather than going to the Internal Revenue Service, and allows the city to recoup some of its expenses in the future compared to that Waiver of repayment.
Becton said despite this change, the developer would still get more than $ 50 million in cash through the Breadbox loan, an incentive other developers downtown didn’t get. Lamping said that if the city’s share of the development costs fell by that amount, “the project will die”.
You can read more from our news partners at the Florida Times-Union.