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Jaguars agree financing deal for Lot J project

NFL American football team the Jacksonville Jaguars has seen its plans for a mixed-use development in the area surrounding TIAA Bank Field move forward after agreeing financial terms for the project with the City of Jacksonville.

In August, the City announced an agreement had been struck to develop an entertainment, commercial and residential complex. These plans have now moved ahead following a meeting between the City, the Jaguars and The Cordish Companies, the team’s partner in the project.

The $450m (£349m/€382m) development at Lot J is expected to spur economic growth in Jacksonville, especially in neighbourhoods north and east of the sports complex. The mixed-use development, dubbed the ‘Live! District,’ will include two residential buildings with a total of 400 for-rent residences, a 150-250 room hotel, 75,000 square feet of street-level retail, and 40,000 square feet of Class A office space.

A 100,000 square-foot entertainment centre will also be developed with bars and restaurants, as well as indoor and outdoor facilities. The venture — a 50-50 partnership between the Jaguars and The Cordish Companies — is projected to provide an immediate boost to the local economy with more than $2bn in direct and indirect salaries during the first 40 years, $100m in economic output annually, and the creation of 2,300 construction jobs and 1,000-plus permanent jobs.

As part of the agreement, the total direct public investment of $152.7m will include no more than $50m for the City-owned Live! District, $12.5m over 20 years in a REV grant to support the residential component, $12.5m over 20 years to support the hotel, and $77.7m in City-owned infrastructure.

In addition, the City will provide a $65.5m loan to the developer, which will be secured by the developer with a $13.1m deposit into a City-owned trust account. The City will own the Live! district, the infrastructure and all parking within the project.

The target is to break ground in 2021 with a view towards construction being completed in three years. “This is part of our commitment to the city of Jacksonville – to have a vital downtown,” team owner Shad Khan said, according to Jaguars.com. “I said this eight years ago when I was introduced as owner of the Jaguars – that I was going to look for every way to make NFL football viable here. This is just one part of the strategy.”

He continued: “The entire world today is obviously experiencing extraordinary challenges. There are no easy answers, here in Jacksonville or elsewhere. If we are able to find ways to come together, to rally to a cause or opportunity – if we can do that, we’re making progress.

“I truly believe this project can bring us together at a time when we need it the most. This project will reintroduce us, motivate us, connect us and inspire us. We won’t have to wait for the ribbon cutting to see it happen. The construction jobs that will be immediately be created alone will signal a new day for Jacksonville.”

Khan also touched on the subject of the Jaguars’ future in London. In February, it was announced that the Jaguars would become the first NFL team to play multiple ‘home’ games outside the United States in the same regular season with two fixtures at Wembley Stadium this year.

The NFL ultimately elected to cancel its international games this year amid the challenges of delivering the 2020 regular season during COVID-19. The Jaguars have taken one ‘home’ game to London every year since 2013 as part of a long-term arrangement designed to entrench them in the minds of the NFL’s UK fan base.

This contract is due to expire following the 2020 season, and Khan has now said: “The deal we had with the NFL expired this year. There’s nothing on the table right now for one game or more. I think the process might start and we’ll see where we are. At this point, there’s nothing planned. I want to pursue whatever keeps football viable and important in Jacksonville.”

Images: City of Jacksonville