City Hall implosion leaves nearby windows shattered, piles of debris

More cleanup needed after Jacksonville's old City Hall comes crumbling down

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It was quite the site Sunday when the old City Hall building in downtown Jacksonville came tumbling down, but the city was left to deal with the aftermath following the implosion. 

There was damage to three nearby buildings: the Downtown Duval Building, the Blackstone Building and the Churchwell Lofts.

When the 15-floor riverfront building along Bay Street came crashing down in a cloud of dust Sunday morning, the blast shook the area, breaking some neighboring structures' windows and rupturing a gas line, which has since been repaired. 

Ahead of the implosion, the city warned people and businesses in the area that there could be problems.

Ryan Blackmann, with Project: Cold Case, leases space in the century-old Downtown Duval Building next to the site. He met with contractors and met with the city before the implosion. 

"My landlord, the building owner, was very proactive and asking for help and what to expect. They didn’t think there would be any damage, so we weren’t so sure," Blackmann said. "So we had someone to wrap the entire building in plastic, which they did and accommodated that."

The plastic may have helped, but there were still a few problems. A window in Blackmann's office was broken and some debris came down from the ceiling.  

A window was broken in Ryan Blackmann’s office at the Downtown Duval Building.

"They were quick to come over and clean it up and boarded up," Blackmann said. "I'm sure they will be replacing it soon."

It was the same story across the street at the Blackstone Building, where some of the windows were blown out, but most of the damage occurred underneath the building. On Monday, the front of the building remained taped off because of the broken windows. A deli located inside the building said Monday it was losing business because people could not get inside. 

There were also broken windows at the Churchwell Lofts next door. 

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The city and contractor will be paying for the repairs, but there was still more cleanup to do as of Monday. 

Due to Monday's federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.,  the debris from the implosion remained piled up on Monday. At the site of the implosion, the parts left standing were planned to be that way and will be demolished in the coming months. Huge recycling bins could be seen Monday, lining the road, because most of the debris will be recycled. That process began on Tuesday.

The 38th annual MLK Holiday parade through downtown took a slight detour because of work that needed to be completed after the implosion of the old City Hall Annex. Instead of turning on Newnan Street, the parade continued along Bay Street to Ocean Street, turned to Independent Drive near the Landing and then west to Water Street.

City crews were working along Newnan Street, repainting street lines and getting it ready to reopen.

Those in the area said the biggest thing to get used to will be that the old City Hall building is no longer there to block the sunlight. 

In the meantime, the neighboring six-floor Duval County Courthouse is being demolished, but will not be imploded. 

As for the future, there's no word yet about what will go in its place.

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