JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A longtime downtown eyesore will finally come down this weekend, after nearly a year of delays. The Berkman II high-rise is scheduled for implosion Sunday morning.
A lot of people are excited to see this finally happen and one of them is councilman Reggie Gaffney. He has been waiting years to see the building torn down. In 48 hours, he will get his wish.
Gaffney said he is looking forward to it because he hopes it marks a new beginning for this area.
“It’s probably going to be the best day of my life,” he said of Sunday’s implosion of Berkman II. “It’s a nuisance. It’s an eyesore to the city and it’s an unsafe structure.”
The building has been standing as-is for more than 15 years after a deadly construction accident shut down the project. It is the latest in a series of buildings brought down to make way for new developments.
The old City Hall was imploded in January 2019. But that one left several nearby storefronts and businesses damaged from the flying debris.
The city has some safety plans in place to prevent that from happening again, like closing a handful of nearby streets Sunday morning until the area is cleared.
Gaffney said what might be on the way to replace the structure is something people who live in the city should be excited about.
“Anytime you see something new, you see growth downtown and that’s what I want to see.”
Developer Park Beeler wants to replace the Berkman II with Jacksonville’s tallest skyscraper. He said the new building would include a mix of apartments and condos, a restaurant, retail, grocery store, and possibly a hotel.
“We do see the demand being higher than we originally anticipated particularly for condominiums,” Beeler said. “The demand is very, very strong.”
“Once that’s down, that’s also jobs,” Gaffney said of the potential redevelopment. “That’s also townhomes, apartments and retail.”
It is the kind of growth councilman Gaffney, who represents District 7, said the area needs.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” he said.
Gaffney said there is a chance the blueprint for the new development can be revealed by early April.