Debt-holder makes only bid in Berkman Plaza II auction


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The shell of a condominium tower on the St. Johns River that has sat untouched since a deadly collapse seven years ago will become the property of the construction company after no one matched the minimum bid in a public auction Tuesday.

A bankruptcy judge awarded a lien on the half-built Berkman Plaza II to Choate Construction, the general contractor on the property. The property has sat dormant since December 2007, when the parking garage collapsed, killing one construction worker and injuring 23 others.

Choate is owed early $10.2 million for work done at the site before the collapse, so that was the minimum bid set at Tuesday's auction.  The estimated value of the property is $12.4 million.

Choate will be awarded ownership of the property and is expected to sell the half-finished project to a developer.

A new owner could finish the tower or tear it down for some future use. 

"I am kind of encouraged if something does happen," Berkman Plaza tower resident David Good said earlier this month.  "Right now its kind of an eyesore. I lived here about three months so it's good to see improvements."