2 blocks of Bay Street closed due to ‘structural concerns’ in Berkman II demolition

Several blocks of Bay Street downtown are closed because of structural concerns from the Berkman Plaza demolition.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry took to Twitter on Friday night to announce the city has shut down a section of Bay Street and the Riverwalk due to “structural concerns” associated with the demolition of downtown’s most notable eyesore.

Curry said the decision to close the street amid the Berkman II Plaza demolition came “out of an abundance of caution and on the advice of engineers and experts.”

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Crews began closing the street between Marsh and Liberty streets around 9 p.m. and officials said it would remain closed for 24 to 48 hours.

According to JFRD Cheif Keith Powers, the closure came after demolition crews ran into an issue while they were attempting to take a large piece of concrete down from one of the upper stories. The contractor pulled crews from the site and brought in an engineer.

“The contractor and his engineers felt pretty sure that they can resolve this maybe quicker but we need to plan on 24 to 48 hours as we’re going right now,” Powers said.

The residents of Berkman I, an occupied high-rise building next door, were told there is no potential danger to them.

Powers said more engineers are coming to look at Berkman II on Saturday to figure out a way to secure the large piece of concrete that raised concerns.

The City of Jacksonville said it is working with Gaffney and coordinating with the nearby Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on precautionary measures like traffic control.

After sitting vacant and unfinished on Bay Street for more than a decade following a tragedy, crews first began demolishing the building in July.

The demolition was expected to last three to four months.

Berkman II Plaza is in the process of being demolished. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)