Mayor Curry: Berkman II implosion is March 6

The announcement comes after months of delays led to the city taking control of the high-rise’s demolition.

The unfinished Berkman Plaza II at  500 E. Bay St.
The unfinished Berkman Plaza II at 500 E. Bay St.
  • Government
  • Share

The unfinished Berkman Plaza II high-rise will be imploded March 6, Mayor Lenny Curry said Feb 8. on Twitter.

The announcement is less than a month after a decision by the Jacksonville Building Codes Adjustment Board allowed the city to take over the demolition process from the property owner. 

“BREAKING: The implosion date for the Berkman II has been set for Sunday, March 6 at 10 a.m. As news outlets have reported, the @CityofJax recently took control of the demolition process and does not anticipate any further delays. More info to come soon.” Curry’s tweet said. 

Curry administration officials did not immediately answer questions Feb. 8 about the decision to move forward with the implosion.

On Jan. 13, the code adjustments board denied building owner PB Riverfront Revitalization of Jacksonville LLC’s appeal of the city’s condemnation order after the company’s repeated delays to bring down the 500 E. Bay St. building. 

That followed a Jan. 12 City Council vote to approve Curry’s $1.2 million emergency appropriation to pay PB Riverfront’s demolition contractor, Pece of Mind Environmental Inc., to finish its work.

City Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes said Jan. 13 that the city intended to move “very fast” to finalize a contract with Pece of Mind because the city considers Berkman’s structural condition a public safety risk.

In a letter sent Jan. 6 to city Director of Community Affairs Charles Moreland attached to the bill, Pece of Mind President Steve Pece referred to a payment dispute with the Berkman II developer/owner.

Pece of Mind filed a construction lien against PB Riverfront on Jan. 10 that claims the building owner has failed to pay $1,574,560.22 of a $1,923,650 bill.

During the Jan. 13 meeting, city officials said subcontractor Controlled Demolition Inc. also is owed $178,642 by PB Riverfront. 

Pece of Mind outlined safety concerns in the event of extreme weather because of the building’s partial demolition that began in the summer. 

In August, Pece of Mind halted a manual tear-down because of structural and safety concerns and sought city approval for an implosion.

Pece warned the city that his company would end the contract and undo much of the implosion preparation work if PB Riverfront’s account is not brought current.

“This is a unique situation since we had to weaken the Berkman II structure to prepare it for the implosion and the building is only rated for 130 MPH wind load,” Pece wrote. 

“The weakened state of the building is only meant to be temporary, and I can’t predict nor guarantee the structural integrity of the building in the event of a significant weather event.” 

PB Riverfront and development company Jacksonville Riverfront Revitalization co-manager Park Beeler said at that time that the city was intervening in a private contract dispute.

Beeler also said the company did not think the city was giving Jacksonville Riverfront Revitalization “reasonable time” to acquire the additional liability insurance requested by implosion subcontractor Controlled Demolition Inc. 

He said the company had to deal with the contractor’s tight schedule and mitigate dust risk to the nearby Maxwell House coffee plant and adjacent The Plaza Condominiums at Berkman Plaza and Marina.

Jacksonville Riverfront Revitalization delayed the demolition four times between October and January citing scheduling conflicts with the demolition contractor, equipment malfunctions and supply chain issues.

The Berkman II has stood incomplete on the Downtown riverfront for nearly 14 years. 

Work on the Berkman stopped in 2007 after the collapse of a parking garage that killed one person and injured others.