Despite efforts by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan to squelch rumors about his plans for development near the stadium, the buzz persists.
“They” are saying Four Seasons will not be the hotel in Khan’s proposed $321 million Four Seasons hotel-anchored development on the former 8-acre Kids Kampus site.
The Jacksonville Downtown Investment Authority recently said it was nearing a deal with Florida state officials to exchange the riverfront property for a proposed 10-acre park west of the city’s Shipyards property.
Authority CEO Lori Boyer said the city lawyers were reviewing final legal documents that would move restrictions in a 36-year-old Florida Department of Environmental Protection grant from the former park to the area now called Shipyards West.
Khan owns a Four Seasons hotel in Toronto, where the chain has its headquarters. Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently acquired a controlling interest in Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
Khan got $114 million worth of incentives from the city to put the hotel on the site along with a six-story office building and a marina that would be owned by the city government.
Khan invited the media to his yacht a couple of months ago and told them to ignore rumors that the Four Seasons wasn’t coming to Jacksonville. He told the Daily Record that Four Seasons officials he did not name had said to him, “look, we don’t know if it’s going to work but since you want it, we’re going to do it.’”
“But if it doesn’t work, I’m the one picking up the tab, so don’t worry about that,” Khan said.
It is likely the skepticism about a Four Seasons coming is related to an earlier Kahn deal that didn’t pan out as hyped.
Dailey’s Place, south of the stadium, was sold as a grand, soaring, glass-enclosed building and the city put $45 million into the $93 million project.
What we got, in a design change that did not go through the Downtown Development Review Board, was a big tent.
That may have been a factor in the City Council subsequently rejecting the “Lot J” plan that has since been scaled down to the Four Seasons project — if it is a Four Seasons.
Despite it being billed as a Four Seasons for some 15 months, we have seen nothing yet that indicates Khan and the luxury hotel company actually have inked a deal.
We’re not doubting. Just wondering.