Calling the Lot J redevelopment proposal a “fundamentally flawed plan,” OurJax leaders Audrey Moran and David Miller outlined concerns about the negotiation process and pending action in their presentation at the BAM January meeting Thursday evening. If you missed the meeting, you can watch it here.
The two civic advocates cited disturbing parallels between Lot J and recent City activities around the sale of the Jacksonville Electric Authority. Of particular concern with regard to Lot J is the effort to intentionally bypass the Downtown Investment Authority and its role in planning and financing redevelopment in the area.
They noted Lot J is only one piece of a multi-phase request by the Jacksonville Jaguars and that funding including in the deal will potentially tie up one-fourth of the City’s bonding ability before the scope and costs of those other projects are known. Miller also explained that deal's structure requires the city to contribute most of its assigned portion of costs before the developer is required to add their half of the funding. As questions about the ultimate total cost of the project have not been clearly answered and some experts suggest the actual costs are likely to be lower than projected, this could result in the City paying for all or most of the project.
Moran underscored that the group supported the Jacksonville Jaguars and recognized their contribution to the City, but was concerned about the imbalance of power and the rush to gain approval by the City Council for this particular deal.
“We need a good deal too – these are taxpayer dollars,” she said.
Thursday marked a marathon meeting by the City Council, culminating in a vote to move the proposal forward for a final vote next Tuesday, January 12th.
Moran and Miller noted that it was an uphill battle to put the brakes on the Lot J proposal. They applauded efforts by Council members Matt Carlucci, Tommy Hazouri and Randy DeFoor to raise important questions and urge a pause in the process allowing further analysis and refinement of the deal.
What can BAM members do? Here’s what Moran and Miller recommended:
Contact City Council members and advocate for a NO vote on Tuesday. They identified the following members as potentially persuadable: Council members Boylan, Ferrero, Becton, Morgan and Salem.
Write Letters to the Editor outlining your concerns.
Get involved with OurJax and its advocacy efforts.
Support future Mayoral & Council candidates who value citizen input and engagement.
Following the meeting, the BAM Board approved a position opposing current plans for redevelopment of Lot J. Find copies of BAM's letters to the City Council and Beaches rep Rory Diamond below.
You can find information on the Lot J proposal and contact information for City Council members here.