JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Berkman II building on Bay Street has remained unfinished for 12 years. The developers recently scaled back their plans to finish a hotel and put an amusement park in the vacant lot, which drew criticism from Jacksonville city council members and residents.
The unfinished Berkman II project is called an eyesore by Berkman Plaza resident Lonnie Martens.
She loves the location besides what's next door.
"It's amazing and beautiful with the exception that to the left of where we're standing is a building that's been abandoned for  years," Martens said.
The “eyesore” could stay the same for a while after developers told the city they would have to scale back on the project.
They put the project on hold because the soil was contaminated with lead, arsenic and other chemicals from the old shipyards.
Our news partners at the Times-Union reported that the investors owed thousands in delinquent property tax, along with millions in financial judgments.
City Councilman Matt Schellenberg told the Times-Union he was disappointed the Downtown Investment Authority didn’t find out about this before offering the Berkman project to the group.
That drew a reply from the DIA’s interim leader Brian Hughes. Hughes texted Schellenberg hours after the story published online saying, “I hope Matt gets everything he needs prior to June 30.”
June 30 is Schellenberg’s last day in office. Schellenberg told First Coast News he felt that message was a threat.
He also called it disrespectful to him and the 70,000 people he represents.
Schellenberg feels he has a right to ask the hard questions of the DIA.
Residents hope that new plans for the Berkman II can be developed soon.
"I think it's going to cause more problems by sitting empty than by getting to remediation and getting whatever needs to be done to get it fixed," Martens said.
Brian Hughes’ responded to our inquiries about the text message he sent to councilman Matt Schellenberg saying:
”CM Schellenberg had voiced questions in a news article. Since Mr. Schellenberg is a termed-out politician whose term ends June 30, Mr. Hughes was simply stating that to have questions addressed by DIA, he would need to do so before his term ends. There was no threat and any claim otherwise is mistaken.”