Restoration uncertainty looms after dozens displaced in Miami-Dade

North Bay Village evacuates 36 Majestic Isle condo units

NORTH BAY VILLAGE, Fla. – Begrudgingly, dozens of Miami-Dade County residents left their waterfront apartments in North Bay Village, a 525-acre city of about 8,000 residents who live on two Biscayne Bay islands.

Mariela Stenson was among the last residents who police officers allowed to enter The Majestic Isle, a three-story building with 36 apartments at 7946 East Drive, under a 10 a.m. evacuation deadline on Tuesday.

The evacuation order on April 20 followed a failed inspection on April 14 that was part of the building’s 60-year certification process citing rain and termite damage as a result of years of neglect

“They didn’t give us enough time to leave,” said Stenson, who lives in a two-bedroom unit on the first floor.

Photos showed the building’s top floor had collapsed ceilings and aerial video showed what appeared to be three water stains on the roof. Mayor Brent Latham said Friday that the city had not condemned the structure.

“I don’t want to go back, to tell you the truth, because the apartment, the building is really bad,” said Stenson, who purchased her unit in 1994.

Latham said the building can be fixed, but Stenson and other residents said they don’t really know when or how that is going to happen or if they will be able to return to their apartments at all.

“Anyone that has done construction in Miami knows that these things take time,” Latham said. “Contractors take time, engineers take time. The only thing that the city can do is make sure that the permits and the plans are expedited and we can do that.”

There were residents in tears at the most recent commission meeting. Some said they don’t trust the motive of the evacuation— amid ongoing David vs. Goliath litigation between residents and developers.

Latham discredited the conspiracy theories on Friday.

“There are no contracts that I’m aware of. I’m aware of discussions that have been going on for a long time, maybe a year or more, and nothing that has come to fruition,” said Latham, a soccer fanatic with experience at ESPN, FIFA, and CONCACAF, who has been a city resident since 2014 and the mayor since 2018.

Latham oversees two islands with three communities: Treasure Island, where he dreamed of a soccer facility; North Bay Island, where waterfront houses come with a Miami skyline view; and Harbor Island, the home of The Majestic Isle building developed in 1960.

Miami-Dade has become more proactive with evacuations of aging buildings since the Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condo, collapsed on June 24, 2021, in Surfside. North Bay Village Police Chief Carlos Noriega’s mother, Hilda Noriega, was among the 98 victims.

The Miami Foundation partnered with officials to set up a fundraiser to benefit the residents who weren’t prepared to be displaced. For more information, visit this page.

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About the Authors:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.