What’s next for the downtown apartment building marred by devastating fire?

What are the next steps for the future of the downtown apartment complex that went up in flames just days before it was scheduled to welcome residents?

That’s a question that some people are left wondering.

On Sunday night, the first fire broke out on the sixth floor of the brand-new apartment building that was still under construction at 960 E. Adams Street. Fire officials thought it was under control until the fire reignited and smoke was seen coming from the apartment building for a second time.

Firefighters continuously fought the difficult battle to contain the flames as new challenges constantly arose. Structural engineers deemed the building structurally unsafe after sustaining severe damage from the fire and the gallons of water used to drench the flames.

“Hoping that it doesn’t turn into another building that just sits here, and they can do something with it,” Chelsea Weise said.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Chief Keith Powers, Mayor Donna Deegan and the developers for the $60 million apartment building held a news conference to provide the next steps.

Mayor Donna Deegan said plans to move forward include removing the building’s wood framing. Powers said fire crews will have four ladder trucks on the corners of the building to put water out hotspots and flare-ups, which could continue for several days.

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“Public safety has to be number one,” Deegan said. “We are concerned about not only the safety of people in the buildings nearby but also we don’t want to destroy anybody’s structure.”

Powers ensured that crews were being conservative in protecting the environment, especially the nearby St. Johns River.

“What we’re doing to minimize the runoff that’s going into the river is we will put water on a hotspot as it flares up and then we’ll shut it back down,” he said.

RISE Doro is based in Jacksonville after moving its headquarters from Valdosta, Georgia, a few years ago. The real estate company specializes in multi-family apartments and off-campus student housing.

“We chose to move the company to Jacksonville, make a commitment to downtown. We still have the commitment strong in our hearts,” RISE Doro President and Chief Financial Officer Greg Blais said. “We want to be downtown to every extent possible. We want to see a rebuild happen.”

Eight residents were expecting to move into the complex this weekend but had to be offered alternative places at other RISE properties throughout Jacksonville.

Deegan said Manifest Distilling, Intuition Ale Works and other businesses across from the complex and the VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Building parking garage near the building will remain closed until the structure can be made safe.

Bold City Brewery Manager Will Frazier said it’s an unfortunate situation for the city. He also said the brewery does a lot of business with the Manifest and Intuition.

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“So I don’t know if this is going to affect them to where they’re probably not going to be open for a bit considering it was a lot of soot and smoke going on,” he said.

The Jacksonville Icemen will play at the arena on Wednesday but fans should be aware that the parking garage across from the complex will be closed.

“I hope this doesn’t put a pause to the developments around,” David Benjamin said. “Hopefully, they’ll get back to building it again because it was a great location, great concept, and that was going to help the downtown area.”

There are still many unanswered questions that remain about the future of this building.

“This happened just under 24 hours ago, so there’s still a lot to determine,” Blais said.

When the building is finally found safe, engineers said it will have to come down.

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