Surfside mayor defends approval of development plan for condo collapse site

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger is defending a controversial vote to move forward on a redevelopment of the Champlain Towers South condo collapse site.

The town commission, in a 3-2 vote Wednesday night, moved forward with approving the site plan application for DAMAC International, the developer seeking to build luxury units on the site.

But the mayor says there are conditions.

“What we did do is make it a stipulation to the approval that the developer had to come back with new plans to bring that to try to get it approved by FDOT to move the trash, to move the loading dock and everything off of 88th Street as requested,” Danzinger said. “If they cannot obtain those approvals, the plan that was submitted that meets code must be approved by right, was approved to move forward as well.”

In a statement, DAMAC told Local 10 News they acknowledge the emotional burden being carried by survivors and victim family and friends, “and their earnest desire to secure as much of 88th Street as practically possible for the memorial, and we commend the town commission and management for diligently reviewing our submission against such an impassioned set of circumstances.”

Another concern from some family members pertains to the town green-lighting a development project before the cause of the collapse is known. There remains an ongoing federal investigation exploring two dozen possible contributing factors.

“As mayor, are you worried the development project is moving forward on-site before the National Institute of Standards and Technology has made its final determination on why it collapsed?” Local 10 News reporter Christina Vazquez asked Danzinger.

“We approve a site plan. We don’t approve construction,” he said. “There’s still other processes they have to go through, including FEMA and many other agencies.”

Martin Langesfeld, who lost his sister, Nicole, in the collapse said Danzinger and commissioners should be “ashamed” of themselves following the vote, calling it an “extremely disappointing outcome.”

“Commissioner Fred Landsman, Mayor Shlomo Danzinger, and Vice Mayor Jeff Rose should be ashamed of their vote to approve the loading dock and trash pickup on our loved ones’ memorial,” he said in a statement to Local 10 News. “They are 100% sided with the developer and continue to ignore and insult families affected by the tragedy.”

Langesfeld called on the county and FDOT to move the loading dock to Collins Avenue.

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."