Tear down of longtime eyesore Berkman Plaza II to begin Thursday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Demo preps are underway at the Berkman Plaza II, an empty building that’s been sitting on prime Riverfront property for 13 years.

”We need this down as quickly as we can, but as safe as we can,” said council member Reginald Gaffney, who represents District 7, which includes downtown Jacksonville.

Demolition work was supposed to begin on Friday, July 9. After a test, Peace of Mind, the firm hired for the project, determined an excavator needed a new part to handle the heavy lifting.

“[They need to] be able to make sure it can move this concrete,” Gaffney explained.

Once installed and if tests go well on Thursday morning, the tentative 90-day demolition begins.

Construction crews are using their equipment building a mountain of concrete so they can reach the top of the building and officially tear it away slab by slab, floor by floor.

”They wanna make sure everything is properly working today so as they move forward they can meet their timeline,” Gaffney noted.

They’ll be clearing the way for a multimillion dollar apartment and shopping plaza.

”I think it’s an eyesore to what the developers are trying to do,” said Keith McCoy, who has been living in Jacksonville for 47 years.

Like many, he’s eager for the change of scenery.

”[The Berkman Plaza II] has been sitting here, unoccupied, uncompleted for so long [and] it’s time to make some money off it and complete this job,” McCoy said.

This job was six years in the making for Gaffney, and another one isn’t far behind: addressing soil contamination.

”In the next month we’ll be talking about the contaminated soil,” Gaffney said.

The EPA says combustion ash contaminated three areas in the 1990′s and cleanup is 90% complete.

”Let’s clean it up and perhaps someone can partner with us,” Gaffney added.

He wants to keep the momentum from the Berkman Plaza II revitalization going.

“We need downtown to grow. I believe if we clean up all the dirt here, we’ll see investors come much faster.”

”This is gonna kick it off,” Gaffney said.