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Jacksonville developer explains process to renovate high-rises

Jacksonville developer explains process to renovate high-rises
Jacksonville developer explains process to renovate high-rises

JACKSONVILLE, FLa. – For some, home or work is in a tall building. The Downtown Jacksonville skyline is a blend of historic buildings and others more modern, and it’s home to a few skyscrapers and several high-rises.

People who live in these types of buildings could be wondering about their building’s structure, following the tragedy in South Florida where a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed early Thursday.

Steve Atkins is a builder and developer, and he’s the managing director of Southeast Development Group, LLC. He will soon preserve and rehabilitate the Laura Street Trio.

Recently, Atkins renovated the Barnett Building, which was originally built in 1926.

“It is a steel frame building,” Atkins explained. “These are steel columns that have fireproofing sprayed over them with what we would call a back-filled concrete deck in between each floor.”

Which, according to Atkins, is common and the case for most tall structures in Downtown Jacksonville.

That’s different from the building that collapsed in the town just outside Miami.

“It looks as though that is a, basically, simple concrete framed building,” Atkins explained.

He continued, “It’s a very different type of construction method, (but) we don’t know what caused that collapse and we shouldn’t speculate.”

Atkins explained that the company he works with has different consultants that have expertise in reviewing the exterior skins of buildings and their interior structures.

“We even X-ray through the floors of the buildings to make sure the conditions you cannot see are are such that they meet the standard,” he said. “I can tell you there are very few buildings in Northeast Florida that are a concern. These are all very well designed and reinforced from a structural level.”

Stephen McCorvey is an engineer and owns the Fortress Engineering Group. He explained that every three years, commercial buildings like the one that collapsed should have their balconies structurally inspected by a licensed engineer or a general contractor.

Often times, when structural inspections occur on commercial buildings after construction, it’s because of visible or obvious deficiencies or a requirement by the city. Miami requires structural inspections at 40 years of age and 10 years after that. The condo association had started the process of reinspection on the building in South Florida.


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An Emmy-nominated TV reporter and weekend anchor.