88ºF

Expert: Panels on EverBank Center need to be inspected

Piece of siding falls off 20th floor of EverBank Center

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A piece of metal siding fell off the southeast side of the 20th floor of the EverBank Center in Downtown Jacksonville Sunday and landed on the JTA Skyway.

It was the second time this year that siding has ripped away from the building. People who work in the building said the first time was in February.

No one was injured either time.

Officials said they looked at the wiring and components of the Skyway track Sunday and the power supply. After their inspection, they determined there wasn't any damage to either.

"Be glad there was no damage here and it didn't fall down on the street, or on the sidewalk, and no one was injured," JTA spokeswoman, Leigh Ann Rassler said. "Everyone is fortunate for that."

In the event of damage, officials said they can suspend service temporarily and can also manually control the cars remotely to stop them if need be. 

Police closed Bay Street between Hogan and Pearl streets for almost two hours. 

Due to strong wind, firefighters couldn't rappel down from the roof. They had to remove a window to gain access to the side of the building, officials said.

William Chandler of Property 360, one of Florida’s top building inspectors, said he went over to the building and felt the bottom of the one of the panels. He said there is a lot of give, so much that he believes he could have physically pulled it off.

He said the property owners should be very concerned, and he hopes that they are looking into getting the panels inspected.

“What you're looking at is a prefabricated building panel. These ridges on that side, those are where that was attached to an adhesive strip,” Chandler said. “And you can see they pulled away.”

From above, the panels look flimsy, like paper, but on the ground, they're a decent-sized hunk of metal.

“It could be very dangerous, you know, flying off a building,” Chandler said. “I mean, they are large panels. They would kill you if they could hit you.”

Chandler said it’s clear something is wrong, but figuring out if it affects all the panels should be answered by a thorough inspection. He said the problem could stem from a number of things, from a design issue to a problem with the installation.

He said one thing seems clear: The adhesive on the back simply isn’t holding the panels onto the building.
Sophia Asberry said a few months ago a panel flew off and landed on top of a parking garage less than a block away. She said she didn’t see it, but word spread fast.

“Basically the typical, 'Oh my God, did you hear what happened? Did you hear about the panel?' It's just basically, 'Did you hear what happened?' And, of course, that causes people to kind of want to go outside and look,” Asberry said.

News4Jax called the property owner several times and stopped by the office, but we were told several times that the owner had no comment.

News4Jax also contacted the city building inspector for prior inspection paperwork, but we have yet to hear back.