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A portion of Forsyth Street has been barricaded to allow for construction of a new space on the south side of the Jessie Ball duPont Center, the former Haydon Burns Public Library.
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jun. 10, 201412:00 PM EST

Trees coming down around Jessie Ball duPont Center

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The project to transform the former Haydon Burns Public Library Downtown into the Jessie Ball duPont Center entered a new and very visible phase Monday.

The parking lane along Forsyth Street between Main and Ocean streets has been closed to allow for the removal of the live oak trees along the south side of the building. The lane will likely be barricaded for a couple of months, said Robbie Hudson, a project engineer with Danis Construction Co.

“It’s the only way to reach that part of the project,” he said.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund purchased the building in June 2013. Built in 1965, it has been vacant since 2005 when the Main Library along Laura Street opened. The distinctive historic structure is being converted into the Jessie Ball duPont Center, an office and event space for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.

The trees are being removed so that construction equipment can be brought to the building to extend the south wall by 10 feet toward the street. The historic glass tile columns will be restored as well. The trees’ root systems have invaded the sewer lines underneath the sidewalk, which is damaging the underground infrastructure as well as the trees.

Opening the south side of the building also will allow completion of the expansion of the building’s second floor. Hudson said the steel framework is complete and the next step will be to pour a new concrete floor in the expanded area.

“We’re creating a new corridor to the new lecture hall,” he said.

The live oaks will be replaced with Medjool palms, a variety used in many locations Downtown and throughout the city.

Hudson said the new trees will be installed during the final phase of the project, scheduled to be ready for occupancy in the second quarter of 2015.

“The project is coming along great and we’re right on schedule,” Hudson said.

Danis also performed in 2008-09 the renovation of the Jake M. Godbold City Hall Annex along Laura Street between Duval and Church streets. The duPont Center project’s location between some of Downtown’s most-traveled streets and its eventual use have added an element of visibility to the work.

“This certainly is a well-publicized project,” said Hudson.

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