Mayor: Demolition of Berkman II Begins

Apr 27, 2021

Editor's Note: An updated story that includes Mayor Lenny Curry's comments is available here.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Tuesday morning that crews are now on site to start the process of demolishing the unfinished residential tower known as the Berkman II on Downtown's Northbank.

“Crews are on the ground that will begin the demolition of a 13 year old eye sore, Berkman II. I promised you wouldn’t recognize downtown, the transformation continues,” Curry tweeted.

City spokeswoman Nikki Kimbleton said the mayor would have more to say about the Berkman II on Tuesday afternoon. WJCT News will have a reporter covering Curry’s comments about the Berkman II’s future.

WJCT News partner the Jacksonville Daily Record reported earlier this month that three out-of-state companies had bid on demolishing the structure, while a potential developer told the Daily Record his group would buy the site.

The demolition bids ranged between $1.68 million to $2.34 million. 

Park Beeler, the co-managing member of Jacksonville Riverfront Revitalization, told the Daily Record April 14 his company reached an agreement to buy the Berkman II for about $5.6 million from owner 500 East Bay LLC.

In January, Jacksonville Riverfront Revitalization announced it intended to redevelop the property with 300 residential units, retail and public park space, the Daily Record reported.

In 2018 Barrington  Development released this rendering of a proposed entertainment resort at the site of the Berkman II but the plan didn't materialize.
Credit Barrington Development

Before that, in 2018, Barrington Development planned to turn the shell of the Berkman II condo complex into a 341-room hotel and resort featuring restaurants and a "family entertainment center," with outdoor amusement rides along with arcade games, but that plan fell through. Barrington had been seeking $36 million in incentives from the city for what it said at the time would be a $122 million redevelopment.

The Berkman II at 500 E. Bay Street was originally designed as the second phase of the existing The Plaza Condominium at Berkman Plaza and Marina, which also includes riverfront townhouses. It's across the street from the Duval County Jail and Jacksonville Sheriff's Office headquarters.

During its construction in 2007, the Berkman II's parking garage collapsed, killing a construction worker and injuring several others. Construction was permanently halted as a lawsuit was filed against the original owners and the country then fell into an economic recession in the years following.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.