During the Jaguars’ State of the Franchise address on Tuesday, a long-vacant downtown riverfront property was briefly mentioned as a component of the team’s plans for the city moving forward – the infamous Shipyards.
While details are scarce, the potential development ideas for the site are tantalizing.
After two failed attempts by major developers to master plan the site into several high-rise, mixed-use retail and residential towers nearly a ten years ago, the site has sat empty, next to the half-built Berkman II tower. It has signified the failure of the last decade’s attempt to revitalize Downtown.
But excitement surrounding the potential for the site has grown over the past year.
A few months ago, Ponte Vedra based Killashee Investments proposed transforming the site into a global destination, complete with an aquarium, new hotels, retail and Florida’s tallest tower soaring 1,000 feet above the city, with a price tag of nearly $1 billion. AquaJax, a local organization trying to generate funding for a $100 million aquarium has been connected to the site, in addition to another group trying to permanently dock a decommissioned Navy ship as a military history museum.
Rumors around the site have swirled since Jaguars owner, Shad Khan expressed interest in the Shipyards last year.
In yesterday’s meeting, team president, Mark Lamping said that if the Jaguars redevelop the site they are “going to integrate the team into the Shipyards development to give it even more interest.” This integration could include indoor practice facilities but would be something so the site “can continue to be themed with this city’s NFL franchise.”
Some ideas that have been recently floated take cues from what the Atlanta Braves unveiled today (see below) about their new sports complex, albeit with a Jacksonville spin.
With the world’s largest scoreboards taking shape at EverBank Field, the area is poised for redevelopment and integration. Jacksonville could easily blend an aquarium, retail, boutique hotels, sports themed restaurants – ahem, an ESPN Zone? – bars, venues and public outdoor spaces in the area surrounding the stadium, Arena, the Baseball Field and Metropolitan Park.
If developed in such a way, this section of Downtown would become an entertainment destination for the entire region. Who knows, if all goes well with the Carrie Underwood concert in July, EverBank Field could become the host for some of the biggest concerts in the Southeast, if Jay-Z or Coldplay stop by, what better place to build-up an entertainment destination than along the beautiful St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville?