An official in Surfside, Fla., On Sunday rebuffed the idea that the city was responsible for slowing down plans by a condominium council to make necessary structural repairs to a building that ultimately collapsed., killing dozens.
Following a report from the Miami Herald that it took more than a month for the city to respond to plans submitted by the building board in May, City Manager Andrew Hyatt released a statement saying that the issues under discussion were preliminary plans unrelated to structural work and not permits to begin building repairs necessary to pass a 40-year recertification.
“It would appear that the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association has sought to address a number of issues outside the scope of any proposed 40-year recertification work,” such as new natural gas lines and additional parking, according to the Hyatt release. “During communications between the Town and the Association by phone or email, there was no indication that this submission required urgent action on the part of the Town of Surfside. “
Emails first obtained by the Herald show the condominium manager getting impatient with the city’s lack of response to plans for a temporary parking plan needed to move forward with the repair a concrete slab under the building’s swimming pool and on the damaged columns of its garage.
“While we are ready to bid on our project (we) need to get these questions answered,” building manager Scott Stewart wrote to a city construction official on June 21, more than a month later. sending a first request by email. “This is holding us back and the costs (sic) are rising and (sic) 40 years is fast approaching.”
He added: “Can we get some feedback please so we can keep moving forward please.”
The city responded with requests for additional information on June 23, just 2 p.m. before the main sections of the 12-story building folded in on themselves, burying sleeping residents in twisted metal and broken concrete. So far, 24 people have been confirmed dead and 121 are still missing.
A spokesperson for the condominium board declined to comment.
Even without the city’s delay, it is not certain that it would have made a difference. Approval of bids and permits for such work may have taken more than a month. And while the structural issues that needed to be fixed have come under scrutiny, it has not been definitively determined that they caused the collapse.
Emails between the condominium and the city arrived after years of delay on structural repairs.
The problems with the building were first highlighted by an inspection report s submitted by an engineering firm to the board of directors of the condominium in 2018. The report recommended work on a concrete slab poorly laid flat instead of being tilted, preventing water from flowing, causing “Major structural damage”.
The report submitted by Morabito Consultants did not warn that the building was in danger of collapsing. And a city building official at the time was reassuring, telling members shortly after the report that the condominium was “in very good condition.”
Another possible factor that contributed to the delay was the price estimated by Morabito Consultant for the work – over $ 9 million.
Some homeowners protested, council members left, new ones arrived, repairs were postponed and by the time a new council was ready to start work this year, the price had climbed to over $ 15 million, according to a council letter sent to owners in April.
When the building fell on June 24, the board of directors had taken out a loan, roofing work had started, calls for tenders for structural repairs had been launched and some owners had already paid their dues in full. special to pay for the work. Instead, those who chose to pay in installments over many years faced a deadline for their first payments of July 1.