Jacksonville agency OKs $36 million to build out Berkman II

High-rise condominium skeleton sat unfinished on riverfront for decade

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The plan to turn the never-completed Berkman II high-rise structure into a hotel with an adjoining waterfront amusement park is a step closer to reality, but the $36 million it is seeking needs approval from Jacksonville City Council.

The Downtown Investment Authority approved the $112 million development plan by the Barrington Development Group on Wednesday and voted to recommend the city incentives.

The plan is to take the unfinished structure, which was recently sold, and turn it into a 341-room hotel, a water park, a family entertainment center with activities like rock climbing and a Ferris wheel.

"I think it would be on awesome for the redevelopment downtown and bringing people down here," Ashley Mccallen said.

"I think it would be a lot of fun," Jonny Hernzen said. "I’m not sure if it will work, but I think it would be a cool idea."

The city's contribution would not be a direct payment, but would take the form of a tax rebate once the project was completed and successful.

"You are going to have the hotel tower. You have any water playground specific to the hotel guests only," Barrington Vice President Cono Caranna said. "Adjacent to the building as family entertainment. There will be a multitude of games, indoor attractions and we are going to add the outdoor amusement rides as well. The Ferris wheel and a myriad of other things. We just haven’t chosen them as of yet."

There were questions of cost and concerns and about impact to other projects, like plans for the USS Adams to be docked on the Shipyards property nearby.

City Council will now consider a bill to enable the incentive plan before the project can proceed.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.