Village officials said Thursday that 18 Key Biscayne buildings are past due in passing their safety recertifications and Village manager Steve Williamson said they may be referred to the Miami-Dade County Unsafe Structures Board for follow-up.
The list includes 11 residential buildings, as well as several familiar public venues like the Esplanade Mall, the Harbour Plaza shopping center and the Beach Club.
“I think it’s really time that we take this seriously and follow the letter of the law,” Williamson said at a community meeting called to address building safety in the wake of the condo collapse in Surfside.
Williamson said buildings will have one week to complete their certifications before the cases are referred. However, officials said they will extend deadlines if a building is taking steps to show the recertification is under way.
As of Friday, the death toll had risen to 20 at the Champlain Towers South site. Officials said 145 residents remain unaccounted for. Williamson, like other municipal officials across Florida, is in the midst of a crash reassessment of policy and procedures.
The Village did not provide any details of the issues involving the buildings. The disclosure was made by Building, Zoning and Public Works Director Jake Ozyman, who provided a list of addresses, which were cross-referenced with public documents.
|301 Sunrise Drive
|240 Galen Drive
|Galen Drive Condo
|255 Galen Drive
|798 Crandon Boulevard
|150 Sunrise Drive
|150 Sunrise Condo
|166 Harbor Drive
|550 Ocean Drive
|Galen Breakers Condo
|150 Ocean Lane Drive
|260 Sunrise Drive
|555 Crandon Boulevard
|Crandon Tower Cond
|255 Sunrise Drive
|Cay Polynesia Condo
|84 Crandon Boulevard
|685 Ocean Drive
|301 Ocean Drive
|50 W Mashta Drive
|240 Crandon Boulevard
|971 Crandon Boulevard
|93 Harbor Drive
Source – Village of Key Biscayne, Public records.
The Independent called or messaged representatives for the apartment buildings, but many were not available for comment. However Michele Estevez, who manages the LePhare and VillaHarbour condominiums, said she is in contact with Village officials about both properties and disputed any noncompliance.
She said an engineering report had been submitted to the Village for the 58-unit LePhare, and she was waiting for a response. For VillaHarbor, a smaller building overlooking Biscayne Bay, she was waiting to have electrical items completed. For both buildings, however, she said the recertification requirement does not apply because they are townhomes.
Also disputing the Village’s list was Alberto Cohen, who responded for the company that manages 240 and 255 Galen, as well as 555 Crandon and and 255 Sunrise. He wrote in an email that he believed the Village’s information was “incorrect” but did not elaborate.
At Thursday’s community meeting, District 7 County Commissioner Raquel Regalado said officials are planning many changes to the way the government will regulate inspections, set safety standards and change condominium rules, including making more types of building inspection records mandatory public filings. She said the County may shift to a 30 year recertification benchmark, instead of the current 40-year process with recertifications every ten years thereafter.
For condominiums, Regalado said she supported banning the practice of “waiving reserves,” where owners often skip putting money aside for big-ticket repairs, as well as to include concrete restoration as a mandatory reserve item, instead of being optional. Those changes would fall to state lawmakers.
Fausto Gomez, the head of the Key Biscayne Condominium Presidents Council, suggested the Village assist buildings with identifying structural engineers to make sure buildings don’t fall behind on inspections.
Williamson said it was a good idea and he planned to follow up on it.
Here is a list of buildings subject to recertification:
Source – Village of Key Biscayne
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.