If you want to hang out in Jacksonville, where do you go? Unfortunately, downtown was probably one of the last choices on your mind, unless there’s a Jags game or maybe some kind of musical act or comedy show going on at one of the few great venues there like 1904.
But downtown might actually be on your list of places to chill within the next few years thanks to the revitalization plans for the Shipyards.
The Jacksonville Shipyards right now are an eerie, desolate wasteland — seriously. If you take a picture out there, it looks like a place you’d expect a tumbleweed to roll across the ground.
But that won’t be the case soon.
The Shipyards have been a topic of conversation over the last few years since Jaguars owner Shad Khan proposed a plan to revitalize the site and make it a go-to destination in Jacksonville. The Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) recently took the process one step closer to reality.
Three plans were brought to the DIA to revitalize the Shipyards. One plan, Sea Glass at the Shipyards, was submitted by The Presidium Group. A second plan, Jax One Innovation, was presented by multiple groups. The final plan submitted was The Shipyards Jacksonville by Iguana Investments.
A committee within the DIA examined all three plans and decided which plan was best. In the end, the committee recommended the DIA move forward with Iguana Investments’ plan, which is also Shad Khan’s plan.
The plan includes many new features such as restaurants, hotels, office space, a river walk, a private marina and even residential space. The proposed changes would be a complete 180-degree turn from the Shipyards’ current status.
The plan is something that could bring more locals to downtown for a fun night out.
“I honestly don’t remember the last time I hung out in downtown Jacksonville,” Evan Ward, 27, said. “I usually go to Jax Beach if I want to go out with friends, but I guess if the Shipyards are going to be as cool as the pictures look, then maybe that’ll be a new place I’ll want to go to.”
But attracting locals isn’t the only possibility for the Shipyards proposal. Khan’s plan could also potentially bring more tourism into the city. Right now, the only hotels downtown are the Hyatt Regency and the Omni. Iguana Investments’ plan would add more hotels to the downtown area.
Overall, the cost of the plan as of right now would be $500 million.
The downside? It won’t be happening as quickly as you might hope. The projected completion for the project is between 2020 and 2022, but at least it sounds like things are moving in the right direction finally.
(This article was originally published in the Ignite Issue of Void — May 2017)