JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An emergency ordinance funding the demolition of the Berkman II building in Downtown Jacksonville has passed a vote by the Jackosnville City Council. The ordinance needed a two-thirds majority to pass. The council ultimately voted 15-1 in favor of the proposal.
The ordinance sets aside $1.2 million from the General Fund to go to the contractor that has already been preparing for the building's demolition.
"We'll do it at our expense at first, but we will put an additional lien on the property because ultimately, the when and how will be determined, but the taxpayers will recoup that expense from the property owner," Jacksonville Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes said.
With the passing of the ordinance, the next step in the process is an administrative hearing Thursday to address code compliance. If everything goes as planned, the building could be demolished in February.
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The demolition that was set for Jan. 8 was canceled due to a dispute between Jacksonville Riverfront Revitalization and the company originally hired to take the building down, Pece of Mind.
As a result, Pece of Mind began to remove demolition materials from the site. However, in preparation for the Jan. 8 demolition, the company had to weaken the building.
According to a letter by Pece of Mind to the City of Jacksonville, the building may only be able to handle a wind load up to 130 mph.
"The weakened state of the building is only meant to be temporary, and I can't predict nor guarantee the structural integrity of the building in the event of a significant weather event," Steve Pece of Pece of Mind says in his letter to the city.
According to the ordinance, the city believes the building, described as "unstable and weakened," to be a safety hazard if it is not demolished soon.
The Berkman II building has been sitting vacant for more than 13 years. After a parking garage collapsed in 2007, killing a construction worker, the building was finally condemned in 2020, paving the way for demolition.
No less than five demolition dates have either been pushed back or canceled altogether.
You can read the full ordinance below.