JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Downtown Jacksonville will be booming in January -- literally.
The city plans to implode the 15-story Old City Hall on Bay Street, which is was serving as the courthouse annex.
A $7.9 million contract has been awarded to a North Carolina company to do the job, and work is already underway as they are removing asbestos and will demolish -- not implode -- the smaller part of the building.
The implosion of a downtown tower will likely draw a crowd. People gathered by the droves in June to watch two cooling towers at the St. Johns River Power Park be brought down. That implosion went off smoothly.
The city hopes the Old City Hall implosion is just as smooth, particularly with the Hyatt Hotel remaining open throughout the even only 20 yards away. City officials said the contractor will have to take precautions and put up screens so dust does not become an issue for the hotel guests.
The Hyatt declined to comment Friday on the plan for the implosion, which is likely to happen the second weekend in January.
The neighboring courthouse building will be brought to the ground by bulldozers and other equipment and will not be imploded.
The removal of those buildings is part of a riverfront development planned for a possible convention center or other facility.
Three companies have submitted plans for developing a convention center, hotel and parking for the area -- proposals that could cost the city over $1 billion.
The Downtown Investment Authority will look at those proposals next week and decide the next step on development, which may or may not include a convention center plan.
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