Jaguars Owner Shad Khan Shipyards


Jaguars owner Shad Khan could have Jacksonville’s Shipyards to himself

Posted: August 3, 2014 – 8:53pm  |  Updated: August 4, 2014 – 6:37pm

Jaguars owner Shad Khan might have the field to himself if he follows through on his oft-stated interest in becoming master developer of the city-owned Shipyards property on the downtown riverfront.

So far, the only other group that has gone public with interest in the Shipyards is Killashee Investments, a Ponte Vedra Beach firm that showed off a concept last year featuring Skyglass Tower, which would soar over the river with a 1,000-foot-high observation deck.

Mark Farrell, owner of Killashee Investments, said his group has put that concept on the back burner while focusing on other real estate developments.

He said if Khan decides to formally propose to become the developer of the Shipyards, Khan would be a “great person to take this on and lead the charge.”

“I can’t think of a better person to do it, to be honest with you,” Farrell said.

Khan expects to have a plan ready for city consideration by early September, around the time the Jaguars start their regular season, according to team officials.

The city has not yet issued any formal requests for proposals for development of the Shipyards, which the city acquired after a former developer went bankrupt in the midst of the real estate bust.

The vacant land stretches along the riverfront leading to Metropolitan Park and the sports complex where the Jaguars play at EverBank Field.

Jacksonville General Counsel Jason Gabriel said at this stage, city officials can meet with developers and hear their ideas.

But when it’s “game on, so to speak,” the city would follow the process spelled out by state law and city ordinances, which would include advertising the site so any developers interested in it can compete by making in-depth proposals.

Gabriel said the City Council would ultimately have the final say on any deal that transfers the vacant property to a private developer.

The Downtown Investment Authority also would play a role. The authority’s recently completed master plan for downtown redevelopment says the 44-acre Shipyards site would be suited for “large-scale, mixed-use development centered around sports, entertainment and tourism.”

The master plan, which the authority board approved last week, says possible uses could be an aquarium, a U.S. Navy ship museum, a water park, a residential community, a marina, shops and restaurants.

The Jaguars have been in talks with the organization seeking to bring the USS Charles F. Adams to Jacksonville by docking it at a pier in The Shipyards for public tours. In May, the Jaguars floated the idea of building an indoor practice facility as part of a bigger development of the Shipyards. Though the Jaguars haven’t finalized their vision for the Shipyards, the team would want it to have some kind of sports theme if the Jaguars are the master developer, team President Mark Lamping said.

Downtown Investment Authority board Chairman Oliver Barakat said it will take a developer with deep pockets to take on The Shipyards.

“One of the interesting things about the Jaguars is they may have the horsepower financially to do something that no one else can,” he said.

Killashee Investments had tried to partner with the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund for financial backing. But the talks with the pension fund faded away after Killashee made a presentation last year.

The centerpiece of Killashee’s concept was Skyglass Tower, pitched as an eye-catching tourist attraction that would convince people driving through Jacksonville to pull off Interstate 95 for a visit.

Farrell said if the city were to issue a formal request for proposals, his firm would consider whether it makes sense to participate. But he said it’s a huge financial undertaking and Khan would be “perfect to do it.”

“Would we love to have some of our ideas incorporated into it? Certainly,” Farrell said. “But it’s kind of like having two artists paint the same picture. You can’t have that. One developer has a vision and goes with it.”

David Bauerlein: (904) 359-4581