‘Really nervous’: Miami halts construction at Edgewater high-rise over falling debris

Work restarts Thursday morning after city officials say safety concerns addressed

MIAMI – Miami officials ordered construction to stop at a twin-tower condominium development in the city’s Edgewater neighborhood after residents complained that falling debris from the site put them in danger.

Residents of a nearby condominium building, 23 Biscayne Bay, said the debris initially ranged from food and plastic bags to Gatorade bottles.

“We were trying to get a screen or something put so nothing more dangerous would fall,” 23 Biscayne Bay resident Kelly Feeney told Local 10 News Tuesday.

But last Wednesday, residents woke up to wooden pieces with nails falling on the pool deck of their building, located 601 NE 23rd St.

“We are all really nervous about our safety,” Feeney said after the red and green two-by-four fell on the property, a few days before debris fell from a demolition site in the city’s Brickell neighborhood, creating a hazardous situation.

That debris was coming from the Aria Reserve project, located at 725 NE 24th St.

Its developers, the Melo Group, touts the two 60-story, 637-foot skyscrapers as “the tallest waterfront twin towers to be developed in the United States.”

The towers appear to be so close together because the developer “was permitted to reduce the side setbacks above the 8th story from 30 to 27 feet on the west and north property lines,” a city spokesperson said.

23 Biscayne Bay management closed its pool deck after the wooden pieces fell.

“We think we need something protecting our balconies and our pool deck, not just the cars on the street,” Feeney said.

While Local 10 News was interviewing Feeney Tuesday, our crew spotted construction being done on several levels of the property — after the city issued a stop-work order, mandating that “the only work allowed is for the debris net.”

Some netting had been put up as of Wednesday.

“I think they (the city) should be monitoring this as it goes on as well, months ago we asked for them to put something up, nothing happened,” Feeney said. “This happened before the demolition in Brickell last week, but it worries me that so many accidents like this are happening.”

Feeney added, “We got lucky twice now with no injuries, so let’s prevent anything from happening that is any worse.”

The Melo Group released a statement saying that “precautionary efforts are being taken to ensure the welfare and safety of neighbors. Construction has been temporarily suspended while workers install safety nets and clean the site. The work being done onsite is to revise and implement additional precautionary measures, if necessary, and is authorized by the City of Miami.”

A city ordinance allows officials to fine entities for each day they violate a stop-work order. It’s not clear if the city has done or will do that.

A city of Miami spokesperson did say that “the work has been cited with a red tag / stop work order, which is in it of itself punitive as all construction work needs (to) stop and demobilize and cannot resume without the approval of the Building Department.”

The spokesperson added that “a red tag can be placed by an inspector for multiple reasons. This site was red tagged and then issued a (Stop) Work Order. The contractor has been allowed to ONLY proceed with Debris Netting Installation around the entire building perimeter. This work will require several days to complete. Once this issue has been addressed we will reconvene to discuss next steps / allowing construction activities to resume.”

City officials said later Thursday that Aria Reserve “has successfully met all necessary Building Department requirements to address safety concerns. Consequently, the previously issued ‘Stop Work Order’ has been officially lifted, effective immediately, and regular construction activities can and may resume this morning.”

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."