JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville is preparing to request bids to take down Jacksonville's former City Hall and Duval County's old Courthouse. The two riverfront building have been vacant for years.
Mayor Lenny Curry put $8 million in the current $1.2 billion city budget earmarked for demolition of the two buildings.
Jacksonville moved from the 15-story tower to the St. James Building at Hemming Park in 1997, although the State Attorney's Office used part of the old building for several more years. The Courthouse has been vacant since the new Courthouse opened in 2012.
Jacksonville Daily Record reported that Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa and Aundra Wallace, executive director of the Downtown Investment Authority, met Thursday to discuss plans for demolition. The mayor's office did reply to a request for comment, but reporter David Cawton was told a draft request for proposals should be available in two weeks.
The pending demolition is one of several potential developments along Bay Street, including the Shipyards and Metropolitan Park projects, which were awarded to a group backed by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.
Curry has made redevelopment of the Northbank riverfront a priority for his administration, and it certainly is for business owners in the area.
"I am not sure if it’s going to move quick enough, but any progress is good progress," said Shelby Martin, who manages Myth Nightclub on Bay Street. "It’s just a waiting game. But it’s going to come. It’s going to happen."
In 2011, a Jacksonville Civic Council task force recommended that the Duval County Courthouse and Annex site be developed as a convention center and exhibition hall. In August, Curry said more than one party had expressed interest in developing the riverfront property where the vacant city buildings currently occupy.
“At this stage, it’s just that,” he told the Daily Record at the time.
Northbank projects include demolishing the parking deck for the half-built Berkman Plaza II high-rise that collapsed in 2015 along Liberty Street and Coastline Drive, behind the courthouse.
The city moved most of the legislative and executive branch departments in 1997 to the St. James Building at 117 W. Duval St., although some departments and the State Attorney’s Office used the space for several more years.
Over the summer, a city spokeswoman told the Daily Record that it was costing about $7,500 per month for electricity, water and sewer services for the two buildings.