Evacuated North Miami Beach condo is unsafe, city says

Crestview Towers must remain closed but residents can briefly grab belongings

A police investigation is being launched into the Crestview Towers, which have been deemed unsafe for residents.

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – North Miami Beach officials say a condominium building that was evacuated because of safety concerns must stay unoccupied until the condo association submits a new 40-year recertification report that addresses all structural and electrical issues.

The building is about 5 miles from Surfside, where Champlain Towers South collapsed on June 24.

An audit prompted by the collapse found that the nearby 156-unit Crestview Towers had been deemed structurally and electrically unsafe in January.

The city rejected two new surveys filed by the condo association this week because they did not comply with the certification process or did address problems raised in the January report.

Local 10 News learned Thursday that Crestview has nearly half a million dollars in outstanding fines for code violations dating back to 2014. The citations range from inadequate emergency lighting to failure to properly maintain fire equipment.

Three hundred residents were forced out Friday, the same day the condo board submitted an engineer’s report indicating the building was unsafe electrically and structurally, with concrete spalling and moisture on balcony slabs.

“It’s sad,” displaced resident Nori Morales said. “We don’t even know how to deal with it and we don’t get answers.”

The matter of how things reached this point at the building will be part of a criminal police investigation, officials said at a news conference Thursday morning.

“There is nothing concrete that I can tell you right now,” North Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Rand said. “These are allegations that are coming in now that are a possible misuse of funds.”

Residents of the 10-story complex won’t be allowed to return to live there for an indefinite time, but they will be allowed to go inside for 15 minutes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Friday to gather essential belongings.

Only one representative from each family will be allowed, and they will be escorted up by a security guard or police officer. They will be able to take objects such as medications and documents but not furniture.

“The city, we’re acting responsibly,” North Miami Beach City Manager Arthur H. Sorey III said. “We want [the residents] to be safe. I know that everybody’s frustrated ... but they weren’t safe in that building.”

The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is assisting 55 people with living arrangements, including 12 children.

City officials and police will be further investigating the situation, but for now residents of the Crestview Towers cannot live there. The building is about 5 miles from Surfside.

About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.