The historic Ford Motor Co. plant is cleared for demolition.
The city issued a permit June 12 for ELEV8 Demolition to raze the 98-year-old former factory in the riverfront Talleyrand area near Downtown.
Amkin Hill Street LLC owns the property at 1900 Wambolt St., near JaxPort’s Talleyrand Marine Terminal.
ELEV8 will demolish a 165,025-square-foot building, the permit shows. The property is on St. Johns River frontage under the Mathews Bridge.
Duval County property records show the plant is about 170,000 square feet built in 1925, although some reports say it opened in 1924.
The demolition permit comes weeks after the Jacksonville Historical Society released its annual list of Jacksonville’s Most Endangered Buildings in observance of National Historic Preservation Month in May.
The list of more than 20 buildings included the Ford property.
“Historic sites and properties matter to Jacksonville’s people. When historic buildings such as the 99-year-old Ford Motor Assembly Plant building are demolished, we erase another part of the culture, history and life stories that form our Jacksonville,” society CEO Alan Bliss said in a news release.
The society said the assembly plant is on a long quay out into the river and is supported by 8,000 piles.
It said the plant is one of more than 1,000 buildings designed for Henry Ford by Albert Kahn, an internationally recognized industrial architect.
The Ford Motor Co. occupied the site until the late 1960s.
The Jacksonville City Council voted Oct. 11 to allow Amkin Hill Street to demolish the landmark for a possible maritime industrial redevelopment project.
The 17-0 vote overruled a June 9 order by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission that denied Amkin Hill Street LLC a certificate of appropriateness to raze the structure, which was an assembly plant for the Model T and Model A that city historic preservation staff said automaker Henry Ford helped plan and operate.
Amkin, controlled by Miami-based investor Ramon Llorens, bought the property in February 2015.
An Amkin representative told the Council Land Use and Zoning Committee on Oct. 4 that a U.S.-based shipyard owner was considering bringing 300 jobs to the site.
“If it could have been renovated, we’d have done it,” said Sonny Redmond, who was a managing member for the former property owner, Hill Street LLC, and a consultant for Amkin.
Another Amkin representative told city officials that pilings at the plant are structurally unsound and that its contracted engineer deemed the building not salvageable.
Although several Council members acknowledged the historic significance of the building, they said the decision to grant Amkin’s appeal came down to the condition of the buildings and the possibility of more jobs in the Eastside neighborhood.
The 14.64-acre Ford plant site is next to the north side of the property where Fincantieri Marine Repair is making a $30 million improvement to marine infrastructure, including work to accommodate a 500-foot dry dock.
The dry dock will give the shipyard the capability to perform extensive maintenance work on larger military, government and commercial vessels and support 300 jobs, the company said in May.
According to city Assistant General Counsel Susan Grandin and former Planning and Development Department staff Susan Kelly, who prepared the commission’s report about the property, the plant has had local landmark status since Nov. 23, 2003.
The ownership group at the time, which included Redmond, requested the landmark designation, which is meant to give the building some protection from demolition.
Kelly, who now works for the Downtown Investment Authority, said the Ford plant was designed by prominent industrial architect Albert Kahn and Henry Ford was directly involved in the project.
Amkin’s engineering report said that damage to the timber pile-supported wharf around the building included portions with up to 100% section loss and loss of fill material under the building itself.
Bliss and the city Planning and Development staff agreed the eastern third of the building was likely deteriorated beyond repair but said some of the factory, former showroom and office areas could likely be preserved.