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Jax Daily Record Friday, Jan. 11, 201905:20 AM EST

With implosion of City Hall Annex looming, neighboring businesses are getting ready

Former City Hall Annex Downtown scheduled for Jan. 20 demolition.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

After weeks of preparation, when the switch is flipped to detonate the charges placed inside the building, it will take only seconds to complete the implosion of the former City Hall Annex.

The neighbors around the Downtown block bordered by East Bay Street, Coastline Drive, Market and Newnan streets are preparing for the demolition and for the aftermath of dropping the 15-story structure onto its foundation.

The north side of the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront is closest to where the rubble pile will be left behind. A narrow alley separates the annex from the staff entrance and the part of the hotel where the security, human resources and staff areas are located.

The lower floors of the Blackstone Building will be covered to prevent dust and debris created by the implosion of the City Hall Annex from entering the parking decks.

The hotel that caters to business travelers and convention groups has planned for less than average occupancy, even for a weekend. About half of the 951 guest rooms, those facing the demolition site, won’t be available for guests late Saturday and early Sunday when the implosion occurs, said Hyatt spokeswoman Nyree Armoreda.

Larry Brake, manager of the Blackstone Building directly across Bay Street from the implosion site, is preparing for the expected dust cloud that, depending on the weather, could be dispersed as far as several blocks after the implosion.

The open sections on the lower floors of the side of the building facing the annex will be covered to prevent dust and debris from being deposited on the building’s parking deck floors, he said.

The HVAC system will be sealed to prevent dust from entering the building while the debris cloud settles and all of the air filters will be replaced.

Brake isn’t expecting that any tenants will be inside the building behind its floor-to-ceiling windows facing the implosion site when the charges are detonated.

“We’ll make sure the building is evacuated. It’s on a Sunday morning, so no one has any reason to be here anyway,” Brake said.

Coker Law is in Baywater Square, also known as the historic Herkimer Building, directly across Newnan Street from the annex.

Howard Coker said he and his staff haven’t decided whether they want to be in their offices with a front-row seat for the implosion.

“We’re having a debate. Should we or shouldn’t we? I kind of want to see it,” he said Wednesday.

Coker expects to have to deal with some amount of inconvenience when he and his staff come to the office the day after the implosion, which he said he believes will be a benefit for Downtown development.

“I’m sure there will be a tremendous amount of dust, but I’m for what they’re doing. We’ll suffer the consequences,” he said.


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