Crews prepare for implosion of old Jacksonville City Hall

Mayor: Tearing down part of city's history creates path for downtown development

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The city has been preparing this week for Sunday's implosion of the old Jacksonville City Hall on Bay Street in downtown Jacksonville.

Sky 4 aerial video showed that the demolition process was underway Thursday, ahead of 8 a.m. Sunday, when the 15-story building is scheduled to come down.

On Thursday and Friday, crews were doing preparation work, tearing down some of the smaller sections of the building, which opened in 1960. They were also wiring up dynamite to bring the high-rise down in just seconds when they set off the blast.

A lot of planning has gone into the demolition work. Across the street, the old Duval County Courthouse is being brought to the ground by bulldozers and other equipment, and will not be imploded.

As of Thursday, the old courthouse was already basically gone, though demolition at the old courthouse is not expected to be done by spring.

The city said the implosion is planned for Sunday morning because fewer people will be around. 

Mayor Lenny Curry said he plans to watch the event, but there won't be a public viewing site. In fact, roads will be closed Sunday morning around the area, and people who live and work in the area will be told to stay inside during the blast. They will also be asked to keep doors and windows closed, and turn off exhaust fans, as there will be a dust cloud. 

WATCH: Crews prep old City Hall for Sunday's implosion |
ROAD CLOSURES, RESTRICTED AREAS: What you need to know about the implosion

Besides the nearby Hyatt Regency Jacksonville, there aren’t a lot of businesses in the area that will be affected. Will Frazier, a manager at Bold City Brewery across the street, said they are delaying opening Sunday just in case. 

"It’s an effort to take downtown to the next level, but the fact that they are tearing the building down, and it’s older, is somewhat of a concern," Frazier said. "So I’m glad they’re going to shut down the streets and quarantine this area for a period."

But once the implosion is over, there is still no answer as to what's going to happen at the site. 

"We are going to knock it down so it will be ready for some sort of development," Curry told News4Jax. "We will work with the Downtown Investment Authority. It could be any number of things. It's a blank slate."

There have been some ideas, such as building a new convention center on the site. But, for now, that has been put on hold.

The mayor said the demolition is important and it’s a start to downtown development.

"By putting this in my budget a year ago, and now to the point to where we’re knocking it down, we are doing the basic foundational stuff we have to do to actually move downtown and our city forward," Curry said.

By tearing down this part of Jacksonville history, the mayor believes the city will be able to create a new path for downtown and the riverfront

Coverage of the Bold City Blast will begin at 6 a.m. Sunday on News4Jax. 

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