Miami condo residents nervous after Champlain Towers South collapse

After reading an engineer’s report on the Miami condo tower next door to his own, Bob Ross is worried.

Ross lives in Miami Bay Towers, across the marina from Palm Bay Towers, where the report, prepared in December, found “structural deficiencies” in the 26-story, 68-unit building, one of the only ones in the city built over the water.

It was the underwater portion that the engineering firm, The Falcon Group, pointed to as having several areas with concrete cracking and chipping, and rust spots. “Concrete deficiencies at the support columns, if not addressed in the near future, may affect the structural integrity of the building,” the report on Palm Bay Towers said.

Following the June 24 collapse of Champlain Towers South, a 12-story condo in the town of Surfside north of Miami, the concerns of the residents of Miami Bay Towers grew.

“Everybody is petrified, because as we’re looking at this monolith across the marina and if it came down, it would come down on us,” Ross said.

The marina which separates the buildings collapsed in 2019.

A recent engineering report declared Palm Bay Towers safe. But fears like Ross’ are running rampant throughout South Florida, as residents in and near older condo buildings worry about deferred maintenance and other problems that boards have often been reluctant to spend money on, for fear of raising maintenance fees or charging for special assessments.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava last week said the county would begin an audit of hundreds of older buildings to confirm they are safe, and asked cities and towns to step in where possible.

On Friday, the city of North Miami Beach ordered the evacuation of the 156-unit Crestview Towers, a condo about five miles from the Surfside collapse, after a review found unsafe conditions there.

Separately, 72 units in a central Florida condo built in 1990 were deemed unsafe after an engineering firm found some of the walkways leading to the condos were at risk of collapsing, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Residents at the complex in Kissimmee, Florida, were advised to enter the buildings at their own risk.

“Probably everybody in South Florida has become aware of how they may be in the same position,” Ross said. “It’s scaring the hell out of us.”

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