JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's visible all over the city. Berkman Phase II has looked the way it looks now since a tragic accident halted everything almost ten years ago.
On December 6, 2007 at about 6 a.m., construction crews were working on the six story parking garage when it collapsed, killing one. There were supposed to be 220 more apartments and condos on the St. Johns Riverfront.
"It was horrifying to hear about the loss of life. Just heartbreaking," Emily Lisska with the Jacksonville Historical Society remembers the day it collapsed.
According to an article from the Times Union, two years after the collapse, workers had been telling their bosses of problems with the structure for weeks. Twenty-six year-old Willie Edwards, III died that day and more than 20 others were injured. It took search crews days to find Edwards' body.
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined the structure could not support the newly poured 6th level of the parking garage.
Lisska says she and several others with the historical society opposed the building of the Berkman and Berkman Phase II in the first place, because it was the home of the Christopher Building, built in 1902.
"It's a four star ranked historic building sat on that site. prior to the Berkman's development. And this goes back way back, more than a decade, two decades now, " said Liska.
Harbor Companies was the original owner of the site, but OSHA cited contractors and subcontractors and there were several civil lawsuits. Millions of dollars were lost in the course of the past 10 years.
The building has changed hands several times. It's current owner, a construction company in Atlanta, is a de facto owner after the previous owner foreclosed on the property. That was in 2014. It went up for auction in April of that year. The company was granted a $10.2 million judgment and lien and was the lone bidder, securing the property for 100 dollars.
Plans for the building have been put on hold with the development of the Shipyards. City council approved the Downtown Investment Authority's suggestion of accepting Iguana Investment's proposal, Shad Khan's plans. In looking at the plans, it doesn't appear that the building is a part of them.
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