County OKs $16.8M incentive package for new PGA Tour media center

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St. Johns County Commissioners recently approved a $16.8 million economic incentive package for the PGA Tour’s new broadcast media center to be constructed on Palm Valley Road. The proposed 150,000-square-foot structure would be located next to the Tour’s recently completed Global Home.

The grant will have an estimated annual payout of $671,150. The grant would cover 25 years of ad valorem and tangible business personal property taxes, including general county tax and the road and fire portion, as well as the impact fee and water and sewer connection fees.

The vote was 4-1, with Commissioner Jeb Smith voting no.

“To me, this is a very far-reaching, extensive increase in regard to the obligation of this contract compared to what we’ve done in the past,” Smith said at the May 18 meeting prior to the vote.

To illustrate his point, he compared the package with that of two large incentives approved previously. He pointed out that the duration of those granted to the Tour’s Global Home and a project at Northrop Grumman was four years, whereas the media center contract would be for 25 years.

He also pointed to a lower number of jobs created by the proposed center when compared to the other two projects.

By Sept. 30, 2035, the new media center is expected to create 45 new jobs with an average annual wage of $79,442 and retain another 135 jobs.

In addition, it would create 724 construction jobs. Construction is expected to begin in March 2022 with completion by March 31, 2024. The cost of the project is estimated at $100 million, including land, building and equipment.

County staff projected a net benefit for the county of about $15 million in school taxes over 25 years, $21 million over 35 years, as well as $16.2 million in county taxes over 25 years, $22.7 million over 35 years.

The building would have an estimated annual economic impact on the county of $304 million.

Commissioner Henry Dean spoke in favor of the agreement, emphasizing the business relationship between the county and the PGA Tour, and the Tour’s charitable work locally.

“We are lucky as a county to have the PGA Tour headquarters here,” he said.

The PGA Tour unveiled its 187,000-square-foot Global Home in January. That building has a capacity of 1,100 employees and replaces 17 smaller buildings at various locations. It is located at 1 PGA Tour Blvd., just off State Road 210.

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