Miami Beach orders sudden evacuation of condo building due to unsafe structure notice

Residents of a Miami Beach condo building were forced to suddenly evacuate on Thursday.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Residents of a Miami Beach condo building were forced to suddenly evacuate on Thursday.

According to officials, the City of Miami Beach posted an unsafe structure notice on The Port Royale building located at 6969 Collins Ave. Water was shut off to the building Friday.

Residents said they got word on Wednesday that the building would need to be evacuated, but it wasn’t until Thursday that they were given a few hours to leave.

“We take issues of building safety with utmost priority and won’t compromise the safety of our residents and visitors,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said.

The notice required the residents of the building’s 164 units to vacate by 7 p.m. This is based upon a report from the building’s structural engineer, the city said.

Residents of Miami Beach condo suddenly ordered to vacate building

The condo property is in the process of undergoing its 50-year recertification.

Marsh Markaj, who works in construction, said he noticed problems with the building two years ago and he had videos and photos to prove it.

“Cracks in the column, cracks in the base, in the garage, behind the pool, everywhere,” Markaj said. “It’s not possible to fix this; I don’t think so.”

According to city officials, significant damage was found in a concrete beam at the garage level — a beam that engineers believe may be supporting the entire building.

“If the beam they are talking about was a girder that was supporting a column or a girder that was supporting other beams then that becomes something you worry about more,” said Allyn Kilsheimer, a nationally-renowned expert who investigated the collapse in Surfside. “If the movement has been in a day or two then I think it probably is a very reasonable thing to get the people out of the building. Generally speaking, you can get in there and put in shoring very quickly.”

Images attached to an official inspection report showed damage to the walls of the building, water leaking into an electrical gutter, and chipping and spalling on columns in a parking area.

The report indicates that it could take an estimated 10 days to install the proper repair work, after which an inspection will need to be passed in order for residents to be allowed back into their homes.

“If God Forbid something had happened to this building, and it was still occupied, and the city had this memo in their office, and they hadn’t done something about it, that is not a good situation and so sometimes you err on the side of being conservative,” Kilsheimer said.

Read the city’s inspection report

About the Authors:

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."

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019. Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, David has covered South Florida sports since 2007.