Jacksonville plans no fanfare for implosion of old City Hall

60-year-old Duval County Courthouse also being taken down

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In just over a month, the long-vacant, riverfront City Hall will come tumbling down, leaving one less high-rise in downtown Jacksonville. But don't expect much fanfare before the city blows it up.

The neighboring old Duval County Courthouse is already being demolished and the implosion of the 15-story City Hall is scheduled for Jan. 20.

News4Jax learned the building, considered state-of-the-art when the building opened in 1960, will come down at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, when few people will be around. The city tells us there will not be a public viewing site. Nearby streets and the St. Johns River near the building will be closed to the public.

This is a very different approach than the implosion of the JEA cooling towers in June, where a host of dignitaries were invited and the utility raised money for charity by taking bids for who would get to push the plunger to set off the dynamite.

When the city imploded the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in 2003, there was a citywide celebration.

There initially was concern about the impact of the City Hall implosion on the Hyatt Riverfront Hotel, which is right next door. The city now says no precautions are necessary, that neither the blast nor the dust from it will be a problem.

Similarly, the old courthouse, home of Jacksonville's courts, tax collector and property records for a half-century, is also coming down without any public acknowledgment. 

The city is working on a safety plan to make sure people and the surrounding buildings will be safe. Officials said it will be loud. The blast will only take a few seconds, but the dust cloud may persist for a few minutes. The city said more information will be released later this month letting people know what to expect.

Quincy Benton, who is getting ready to open up the Manhattan Sports Bar and Lounge right across Bay Street, has some concerns.

"(I'm a) little concerned about the safety of workers and the general public, but I think they will be able to get it done," Benton said.

Others told us they'll be glad to see the vacant buildings gone and they’re not expecting any problems

"I honestly think it will be fine," Live Bakery and Deli owner Lisa Leonardi said. "I don’t think they would do it with businesses here, knowing they would have that kind of impact."

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.