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Judge Approves Sale of Surfside Condo Site

— July 16, 2021

Surfside Condo site will be put on the market and proceeds will go to victims of collapse.

Champlain Towers South, a Miami, Florida condo complex, suddenly collapsed with many of the residents inside the site late last month.  The tragedy left at least 97 people dead and others are still missing.  Search and recovery efforts are still underway, and the cause of the collapse has yet to be determined.  Lawsuits have been filed against the association on behalf of residents and their families.

The portion of the complex that was still standing was leveled in a controlled explosion meant to allow crews to continue their efforts to find missing residents.  Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the demolition was “executed exactly as planned and left officials optimistic about the safely sifting through the rubble.  There is hope that there are voids that will allow us to continue the search and rescue operation.”

Governor Ron DeSantis said at the time the decision to demo the remaining structure was made, “Concerns about the remaining part of the building left few options but demolition.  Residents of the building who survived fled with whatever they had with them and had not been permitted to enter the teetering structure.  Passports, wedding rings, cherished photos were left behind.  At the end of the day, that building is too unsafe to let people go back in.  I know there’s a lot of people who were able to get out, fortunately, who have things there.  We’re very sensitive to that.  But I don’t think that there’s any way you could let someone go back up into that building given the shape that it’s in now.”

Judge Approves Sale of Surfside Condo Site
Photo by Steven Weeks on Unsplash

Now, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman has approved the sale of the oceanfront property where the building once stood and the proceeds from the sale will benefit victims of the collapse.  Hanzman ordered the process begin to sell the site of Champlain Towers South, which could go for $100 million to $110 million, according to court records.  The court-appointed receiver, attorney Michael Goldberg, confirmed via email the judge, “wants us to start exploring a potential sale.  He did say he wants the land to be sold and the proceeds to go directly to the victims as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson for the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association responded to the litigation, “While we cannot comment on pending litigation, our focus remains on caring for our friends and neighbors during this difficult time.  We continue to work with city, state, and local officials in their search and recovery efforts, and to understand the causes of this tragedy.  Our profound thanks go out to all of the emergency rescue personnel – professionals and volunteers alike – for their tireless efforts.”

The forty-year old complex had warning signs of major wear and tear that may have contributed to the structural failure.  After the incident, Levine Cava ordered an audit of all buildings over forty years old and a condominium in North Miami Beach was evacuated.

Manny J. Vadillo, an attorney who represents the owners of the Devon Apartments, said, “My clients are extremely sensitive to safety and, in fact, visited the property several times…to speak with tenants when communications started with the city to ensure tenants were not caught by surprise.  Some tenants have been there many years.”

Resident Esmart Romero wasn’t surprised, stating, “If you look at the condition of this apartment, it’s not good.  You get what you pay for.”


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