SURFSIDE, Fla. – The condo that collapsed in Surfside on Thursday morning was going through the 40-year recertification process that is required of South Florida buildings, Local 10 News has learned.
The Champlain Towers South building at 8777 Collins Ave. was built in 1981 with 12 stories and more than 130 units.
As part of the recertification process mandated after 40 years, the building hires engineers (electrical and structural) and they go through the facility from top to bottom. After the report is analyzed, repair work that was suggested is done.
That’s what was happening at this time, with work being done on the roof and elsewhere in the condo, officials say.
“The engineer has been working for many months to develop the specifications to work with the city,” said Kenneth Direktor, an attorney for Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, Inc. “What was in its infancy was the actual construction, which had not started with the sole exception that they had already begun on the roof.”
The condo board was apparently on top of it, investing thousands of dollars to do recommended repairs.
A representative for the owner said that as part of the recertification they were going to be doing a concrete restoration project, but that was not yet underway.
Surfside Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer said she was told a building inspector may have been onsite at the Champlain Towers as recently as Wednesday.
But the condo’s attorney says he thinks it’s too early to conclude that the recertification work had anything to do with the collapse.
“I’ve never seen anything like this. Never. Nothing even close,” Direktor said. “And there are a lot of buildings around Florida that have already done their 40-year certification and needed extensive work, but nothing like this happened. Which is why I don’t think we’re anywhere near a point where we can develop an understanding of what caused this or find any correlation between the 40-year certification and what happened to this building.”
#Voices from #SurfsideBuildingCollapse: Earlier today I spoke with Kenneth Direktor— Christina Boomer Vazquez (@CBoomerVazquez) June 24, 2021
of Becker & Poliakoff - the firm representing Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, INC. We talked about what engineers found during the 40-year recertification process now underway. ▶️ pic.twitter.com/pje2VmtGFH
Questions are also being raised about whether the construction of a new building next door could have weakened this building.
“This building has been under a lot of scrutiny lately with the 40-year recertification of the building and with the 88 Park building going up next door to the south,” Surfside Commissioner Charles Kesl told Local 10 News. “There were garage underground issues related to that, to make sure that it was done soundly.
“And, to my understanding, there were some cracks from that project — minor cracks — that were just patched up. Nothing, based on my understanding, to the magnitude that would indicate that there was a structural problem that could result in something so catastrophic.”
#SoundOn ▶️ #Surfside Town Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer tells me the building was starting a 40-year recertification process. We have submitted a freedom of information request to the Town Clerk for building + code documents. #SurfsideBuildingCollapse https://t.co/tQsMcUm7CR pic.twitter.com/rA7PxLXFkN— Christina Boomer Vazquez (@CBoomerVazquez) June 24, 2021
Salzhauer said that residents of the building she’s spoken to were not aware of any sort of problems that would cause damage like this.
“I want to know why this happened. That’s really the only question,” she said. “Why did this happen, can it happen again, and are any other buildings in town in jeopardy? That is the key thing.”
State regulators say that the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes “does not have citations against the license holder (The Champlain Towers Condo Association), nor has it taken any administrative action against the license holder.”
Said former Surfside mayor Paul Novack: “It will all come out. It’s just way too soon to make any type of guess, or do any speculation, it would be the wrong thing to do. What we need to do is let the professionals do their work and meticulously tell us the precise answers to what happened.”
[ALSO SEE: Photos of Surfside building collapse]