Berkman II building secured, officials to discuss demolition’s next steps this week

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The vacant Berkman II building kept downtown Jacksonville on its toes this weekend.

Reports of instability and the fear of falling concrete led the city to close a portion of East Bay Street and a section of the river walk Friday night as a precaution to bystanders.

RELATED: Sections of Bay Street to reopen, Riverwalk closed due to Berkman II Plaza structural concerns

“Living next to the demolition has been a little bit frustrating,” Berkman I resident Mark Missigman said.

East Bay Street opened back up Saturday night. District 7 City Councilman Reggie Gaffney said workers secured the building and the street is safe.

“All yesterday (Saturday), they were able to remove all the loose concrete from higher up to make sure it doesn’t fall to create problems,” Gaffney said.

The section of the river walk behind the Berkman II will remain closed for at least the next few days as conversations take place this week about what to do next.

“Based on what I’ve been told by the owner, they cannot continue to do it the way they’ve been doing it. They have to do it a totally different way now,” Gaffney said.

Now we’re told there are talks of imploding the Berkman II.

“It is an option right now; and that seems to be, given what I’ve been told by the ownership yesterday, last night in a phone conversation, it’s been a recommendation,” Gaffney said.

The thought of explosives worries some Berkman I residents.

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“It does make me nervous because they have imploded a building down the street here in Jacksonville and that didn’t go so well for the other buildings around it. But they hopefully learned their lesson from that one and this one will go a little bit smoother without any damage,” Missigman said.

Gaffney hopes a demolition decision will be made by the end of the week.

“It’s safe now but it won’t be safe forever,” Gaffney said.

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