Jacksonville residents react to Berkman II plans

Berkman II could become high end resort in downtown Jacksonville

A building stuck in the beginning phases of construction for more than a decade could finally come to life.

A $122 million capital improvement project including the Berkman II building downtown is in the proposal phase. Council members will begin discussions next week.

Developers met with those living in the Berkman Plaza on Monday night. Berkman Plaza is an already-existing 209-unit high-rise adjacent to the Berkman II site.

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Those developers, with Lodging and Leisure Investments, held a luncheon with Council members earlier in the day.

People living in Berkman Plaza tell Action News Jax they’re curious about what’s to come.

If it happens, Sergio Lagman, says he’ll be watching from his home in Berkman Plaza.

“It seems, I mean, surprising is what I would say,” he said, "after living next to a skeleton building.”

Berkman Plaza neighbors can expect to see a resort-style hotel with indoor gaming, a lazy river and water slides, which are exclusive to hotel guests. The public will be able to visit a proposed restaurant and outdoor attractions, which include a Ferris wheel.

“Surprising, too, that they would build an amusement park,” he said.

Cono Carrana, Vice President of Lodging and Leisure Investments, says the project will draw vacationing families to downtown Jax.

“This gives them a reason to stop, pull in. This is a family destination,” he said.

According to the $122 million proposal, if the development group covers at least $90 million in costs, they’ll qualify for $36 million in incentives paid for by taxpayers.

The DIA tells Action News Jax that developers wouldn’t get a $36 million lump sum, but taxpayer dollars would be awarded over time as they complete a specific series of tasks.

“They have millions and millions of dollars on the line,” said Interim DIA CEO Brian Hughes.  “And the taxpayers of this city don’t pay a nickel in incentives until these folks have demonstrated their own investment first.”

Lagman felt the money was a lot for taxpayers, but he tells Action News Jax he’s eager to see what Berkman II could offer.

“It’s just a big question mark honestly,” Lagman said.  “I’m curious just to see if it does work. It if it does work I’d be more than happy.”


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