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Surfside recommends owners of older buildings hire geotechnical engineers to study ground below structure

Surfside is looking at the town’s aging buildings, those over 30 years old and over three stories in height.
Surfside is looking at the town’s aging buildings, those over 30 years old and over three stories in height.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – As the investigation into the cause of the Champlain Towers South collapse continues, Surfside has its eyes on the town’s other aging buildings, those over 30 years old and over three stories in height.

A notice was sent to the owners of nearly 40 properties, with a request to begin safety inspections ahead of their 40-year recertification.

That was stressed for those buildings on the ocean-side of Collins Avenue, with a recommendation that they hire not just a structural engineer, but a geotechnical engineer, to analyze the foundation and subsurface soils.

American Society of Civil Engineers President Jean-Louis Briaud explained how geotechnical engineers specialize in understanding what’s beneath the ground’s surface and that they do most of their work pre-construction.

“Basically, we deal with the strength of the soil in a zone from ground surface down to 300 feet,” he said.

Their soil investigations are used by structural engineers who then design a building’s foundation.

Briaud said while bringing in one of these experts to evaluate an existing building is not commonly done, there are some of the things that can be done as part of their analysis.

“One of the things we do is push a rod into the ground, and we push it one inch per second, which gives us strength profile of the soil below the buildings,” he said.

They can also record how much the building has settled over time.

“We also have geo-physical methods where look through the ground through sound wave propagation radar type of technology,” Briaud said.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett and structural engineer Allyn Kilshimer, who the town hired to help with the investigation into why Champlain South collapsed, explained why they are urging the owners of older buildings to hire a geotechnical engineer.

“We don’t know why the building fell down and it is possible there were issues below the surface,” Burkett said. “It is a recommendation because people want to have peace of mind and they want to understand what is going on with their particular building and they want to know if they are safe or not.”

Said Kilshimer: “So they can go take borings today, next to the building, and see all the same things they can see before. You can put parameters in the soil to record water levels and how they change.”

It was further explained why that kind of analysis is so important.

“If nothing else, it gives a level of comfort to all the people who live in these buildings,” Kilshimer said. “Because a structural engineer is going to say it’s fine all the way down to the ground and I don’t know anything below that, so you need someone who is an expert in that, and that’s why we recommend a geotechnical engineer be involved.”

THE LIST

Below is the list of property owners who received the letter from town officials recommending that they hire a Florida Registered Structural Engineer “to begin assessing their buildings for recertification in advance of their 40-year deadline” and hire “a Florida Registered Geotechnical Engineer to perform an analysis of the foundation and subsurface soils.”

  • Solimar Condo: 9559-9595 Collins Avenue
  • Surfside Towers Condo: 9511 Collins Avenue
  • Spiaggia Ocean Condo: 9499 Collins Avenue
  • The Waves Condo: 9455 Collins Avenue
  • Azure Condo: 9401 Collins Avenue
  • Marbella Condo: 9341 Collins Avenue
  • Regent Palace Condo: 9317 Collins Avenue
  • Manatee Condo 9273 Collins Avenue
  • Seaside Condo: 9241 Collins Avenue
  • Four Winds Condo: 9225 Collins Avenue
  • The Waverly at Surfside Condo: 9201 Collins Avenue
  • Carlisle on the Ocean: 9195 Collins Avenue
  • Hillcrest by the Sea Co-op Apts. Inc.: 9165 Collins Avenue
  • Seaway Villas Condo: 9149 Collins Avenue
  • The Surfclub Apartments Inc.: 9133 Collins Avenue
  • Surf House Ocean Views LLC: 8995 Collins Avenue
  • Mirage Condo: 8925 Collins Avenue
  • Bimini Beach Condo: 8911 Collins Avenue
  • Champlain Towers North Condo: 8877 Collins Avenue
  • Champlain Towers East Condo: 8855 Collins Avenue
  • Solara Surfside Condo: 8801 Collins Avenue
  • Sun Harbour Hotel: 9578 Collins Avenue
  • Sunset Condos: 9248 Collins Avenue
  • Ocean 91 Condo: 9156 Collins Avenue
  • 9140 Collins Ave Condo: 9140 Collins Avenue
  • 9124 Collins Ave Condo: 9124 Collins Avenue
  • Esther-Merrick Properties, Inc.: 9064 Collins Avenue
  • Esther-Merrick Properties, Inc.: 9056 Collins Avenue
  • 9040 LLC: 9010/9048 Collins Avenue
  • 90th St. Int. Investments Corp: 9024 Collins Avenue
  • 91st St. Int. Investments Corp: 9016 Collins Avenue
  • The Mediterranean Condo: 9008 Collins Avenue
  • 8966 Collins Avenue Condo: 8966 Collins Avenue
  • Surfside Villas Condo: 8950 Collins Avenue
  • Realty Brioni Corp: 8918 Collins Avenue
  • Kristina Vida Sirois Houser: 8910 Collins Avenue
  • Beach Point Club Condo: 8900 Collins Avenue
  • Surfside Palms Condo: 8888 Collins Avenue
  • Atlantic Rose Condo: 8816 Collins Avenue

THE LETTER:

Notice to Building Owners (Multi-family, Commercial and Hotel Structures Over 3 Stories) RE: Acceleration of 40 Year Building Recertification Program - July 1, 2021

RELATED LINKS

Surfside collapse complete coverage

HOW TO HELP: A list of resources to support those impacted by building collapse

PHOTOS: Loved ones name those they say are missing


About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."