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Berkman II Implosion Could Happen By Mid-October, City Councilman Says

The unfinished Berkman Plaza II at 500 E. Bay St. in Downtown Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Daily Record
The unfinished Berkman Plaza II at 500 E. Bay St. in Downtown Jacksonville.

The much-delayed demolition of a downtown Jacksonville eyesore could get a dynamite turbo boost in about six weeks.

Jacksonville City Council member Reggie Gaffney told WJCT News partner News4Jax on Friday that the owners of the Berkman Plaza II are now finalizing permits to have the building imploded after concerns were raised that the plan to bring it down with heavy machinery is too dangerous.

A week ago, police and firefighters blocked off parts of Bay Street and the Riverwalk after engineers worried parts of the 180-foot-tall structure could fall during demolition.

The vacant building is nestled between the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office headquarters, the Duval County jail and the Berkman Plaza condominiums and marina.

Originally, the property’s owner wanted to implode the tower, but the city had concerns about how that might affect surrounding properties and opted to bring in a company that would use a special excavator to remove the concrete and metal structure.

Berkman Plaza II has been half-finished since 2007, when the parking garage collapsed while under construction killing construction worker Willie Edwards III, 26, and injuring 23 others.

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Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.