Century-old Miami high-rise suddenly deemed unsafe, but some tenants unconvinced

‘It was a big shock to everyone,’ tenant says

MIAMI – A normal Thursday work day inside a Miami high-rise came to a sudden halt when everyone was forced to evacuate without notice.

Everyone in the historic Huntington Building in downtown Miami, with its 100 years of history outlined in the lobby, is now in the process of moving out because the structure was deemed unsafe last week.

Firefighters flooded the hallways while working to clear the offices inside the building, located at 168 SE First St.

One firefighter could be heard asking what the problem is.

“So why is it a condemned building?” he’s heard asking.

“It was a big shock to everyone,” said business owner Dilana Alexander. “We didn’t get any notification.”

Local 10 News’ Glenna Milberg spoke to Alexander outside because on the fourth floor of the building, where her nonprofit that cultivates artists and young filmmakers is located, everyone was forced to leave, despite it being free of violations.

A posting about the unsafe building didn’t come until days later.

“I was looking for all the things they were saying, that were holes and fire hazards, and honestly I didn’t see much,” said tenant Segundo Correas.

According to the city, a routine inspection found some illegal remodeling that affected one of the fire exits.

“It also raised red flags for me. Why all of a sudden after all these years did they do such a thorough inspection for the first time ever?” asked association attorney Michael Gongora.

“The first thing that comes up is, ‘Are you sure there is not a developer trying to smoke you out and buy cheap?’” Alexander wondered. “I’m not.”

As for the fire exit, owners say they use it and are wondering why they have to leave the building for it to be fixed.

“I don’t know how we are going to pay our mortgage,” said Alexander. “I don’t know how I’m going to survive.”

The building has some historical significance.

On Jan. 4, 1989, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."