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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jul. 17, 201810:53 AM EST

Berkman Plaza II sold

Mayor says developer will renovate structure into a hotel with parking and entertainment.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor


Mayor Lenny Curry confirmed Tuesday that developers purchased the unfinished Berkman Plaza II structure Downtown along East Bay Street with plans to renovate it.

Atlanta-based Choate Construction Co. has owned the building since 2014. Choate did not immediately respond to calls.

Curry did not identify the buyer and a deed was not recorded this morning.

The mayor said Tuesday developers plan to renovate what’s left of the 18-story structure into a hotel, with a parking garage and entertainment element. The 2-acre site is at 500 E. Bay St.

“For three years now we’ve been working with Choate to resolve the problem that is Berkman II,” said Curry. “It’s been incredibly hard at times but we’re there.”

He said the transaction closed Monday night.

“We’ve worked with them and a number of prospective buyers aggressively but the economics have to work,” said Curry of delays for redevelopment.

“Whenever developers came in and for whatever reason their numbers didn’t work, we continued to push and work with Choate,” he said.

Curry said Choate found the right model that “works best for Jacksonville.”

During a June interview, Curry and his team suggested the city would take action if Choate did not close on a deal with developers.

“We’ve made it very clear to them that if this deal doesn’t close, the city will act,” he said, without explaining those options.

The building was designed as the second phase of high-rise residences next to The Plaza Condominium at Berkman Plaza and Marina.

In December 2007, the parking garage under construction next to the Berkman Plaza II collapsed, killing one construction worker and injuring several others. A lawsuit and other court action caused construction to stop.

Choate secured the property through a settlement in a lawsuit against the building’s original owners.

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