Duval County

Berkman Plaza II demolition delayed, Jacksonville leaders say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UPDATE 11/13/21: The Berkman Plaza II demolition previously scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 14 has been delayed.

Action News Jax will keep you updated on-air and online when the new date is announced.

The Berkman Plaza II has a new demolition deadline: Sunday, November 14.

The 90-day deadline Action News Jax reported on in July was coming up this week.

Crews are working on prepping the building for implosion. So if you’re on East Bay Street downtown, you’re going to hear a lot of drilling going on as sandblasters make holes in the building’s concrete slabs, and bury explosive devices. It is now set to come down all at once.

“I’ve been told, [in] less than 30 seconds, it’ll be down,” said City Council member Reggie Gaffney during a press conference on Monday. Gaffney’s district includes this downtown area, and he’s been outspoken about tearing down the Berkman Plaza II since April.

The original demolition approach was to level it floor by floor, which crews deemed unsafe after discovering corrosion at the top of the building.

“All this is a precision operation, said Park L. Beeler, senior managing member of Jacksonville Riverfront Revitalization LLC, who is overseeing this process. “It’s not a matter of putting in charges and setting them off,” he added. “They have to be very strategically placed.”

To keep the debris to the perimeter around the Berkman Plaza II, fencing will be added up and down the structure, and there are also containers stacked three high and three wide to protect the Berkman Plaza I next door.

Then, it would take about three extra weeks to clear all debris. The demolition team wanted to make sure there weren’t any major events in town getting in the way, like those happening this month.

“We got the Jaguars playing, you got the Jacksonville Fair on a weekend, and you got the Florida-Georgia. You got three events,” Gaffney explained.

With this delay, the demolition price has nearly doubled. Though the final price is unknown until the demolition is complete, it is now at more than $2 million, from an earlier estimate of $1 million. But it’s a cost that Gaffney says investors are ready to cover.

”We’ve got many, many options in terms of who they want to work with,” Gaffney reassured. “Money is not gonna be a problem. I do know that.”