The City of North Miami Beach ordered the evacuation of a condominium building on Friday after an assessment showed unsafe conditions about five miles from the site of. An audit following the collapse of Champlain Towers South in nearby Surfside found that the 156-unit Crestview Towers were structurally and electrically unsafe months ago, the city said in a press release.
“With great caution, the city ordered the building to be closed immediately and residents to be evacuated for their protection while a full structural assessment is being conducted and next steps are determined,” city manager Arthur H. Sorey III said in the press release.
The evacuation comes as city officials in South Florida and statewide are investigating older high-rises in the wake of the Surfside collapse to ensure substantial structural issues are not ignored.
Residents evacuate Friday night dragging suitcases of packed items in cars outside the Crestview, which was built in 1972.
North Miami Beach Commissioner Fortuna Smukler rushed to the building Friday afternoon. She said authorities were working to help evacuated residents find a place to go. She said that with the storm approaching, it was a particularly stressful time for residents. Smukler knows two people who are still missing in the collapse of the Surfside building.
“I immediately fled here because this is important to me. I had to make sure that what happened in Surfside doesn’t happen here,” she said. “It could have been our building instead of Surfside.”
The Miami-Dade County mayor had proposed an audit of buildings 40 and older to ensure they are in compliance with the local recertification process after the condominium collapsed last week, killing at least 22 people and more than 120 more. were still missing.
After reviewing the files, the City’s Building and Zoning Department sent a notification that the Crestview building was not compliant. On Friday, the building manager filed a January recertification report in which an engineer hired by the condo association board found the property unsafe. The city then ordered all residents to evacuate immediately.
“I am concerned that more buildings are in this condition. Hopefully this is an easy fix. Fortunately, at least we have evacuated the residents and will not harm them or their pets,” Smukler said.
The Crestview condo association could not be immediately reached for comment on the delay between the January recertification report and Friday’s evacuation.
The North Miami Beach Police Department assisted with the evacuation.
Court files revealed that the Crestview Towers Condo Association sued its insurance company for unspecified damages from Hurricane Irma in 2017. The damages were more than $30,000, but the association never received a payment to cover the damages, the association said. lawsuit.
The parties were ordered to mediate last May, according to a Miami-Dade court.
A parallel federal lawsuit between Crestview Towers and the insurer says Hurricane Irma damage was $8.1 million.