The Mayor of Bal Harbour, Gabriel Groisman, says all condo buildings in the city have been inspected by the building department for structural safety in the wake of the Champlain Towers South condo collapse.
Groisman says one building, The Plaza of Bal Harbour, was found to be past due for its recertification. The condo building received a ‘Notice of Violation’ from the city’s building official, Eliezer Palacio, on Tuesday.
The condo’s engineering firm, Pistorino & Alam Consulting Engineers, Inc., responded Wednesday saying there were repairs that need to be completed but the building is safe for its residents to live in.
“[Tuesday] the Bal Harbour building official issued a notice to The Plaza building,” said Groisman. “First, that they were late for their 50-year recertification. The ten-year recertification that’s done every ten years after the 40-year recertification. And secondly, that they were in violation of not providing a letter from an engineer stating that the building was, in fact, safe to occupy.”
Groisman tells us the condo’s 40-year certification was completed in 2009, meaning its 50-year certification was due in 2019.
NBC 6 obtained a ‘Final Notice’ sent to The Plaza of Bal Harbour by the City on July 6, the ‘Notice of Violation’ sent to The Plaza on August 10, and the response from The Plaza's engineering firm on August 11.
The ‘Final Notice’ letter, dated July 6, 2021, said the building should be inspected by a registered architect or engineer, and a recertification report should be submitted to the building department, in the 30 days after the letter was sent out.
“Our records reflect that you have been notified by this department that the subject building was forty (40/50/60) years old, or older as of the year 2021,” states the July 6 letter.
Tuesday’s August 11 ‘Notice of Violation,’ stated the building was subject to recertification requirements.
“… the owner has failed to timely respond to the Notice of Required Inspection or failed to make all required repairs or modifications found to be necessary resulting from the recertification inspection by the applicable deadline,” states the ‘Notice of Violation.’
The ‘Notice of Violation’ also describes issues including ‘falling away, hanging loose or loosening of any siding, block, brick, or other building material,’ and ‘electrical or mechanical installations or systems create a hazardous condition contrary to the standards of the Building Code.’
The notice also listed four necessary actions for The Plaza to gain compliance with the city, including 24 hours to submit a written opinion from a structural engineer certifying the building is safe for its residents, and a deadline of Sep. 2 to submit a recertification report.
The following day, Wednesday, August 12, The Plaza’s engineering firm, Pistorino & Alam, responded to the notice, stating 100% of concrete columns on the ground floor of the parking garage, and about a third of the building’s balconies, had undergone visual inspections.
“… At the areas inspected, we have identified some structural members that require remediation, however, the extent of damage to these structural members is such that it does not pose imminent danger to life safety,” said engineer, Ashar Anwaar. “Inspections are ongoing, and we will keep you informed about the condition of the building structure as we continue inspecting additional areas…”
The Plaza’s attorney, Russell M. Robbins, responded to NBC 6 News’ request for comment writing in part:
“… The engineering firm has assured the Association and the Village that it will complete the required recertification report by October 15, 2021,” said Robbins. “As with any building, there are repairs that will need to be made, however, the engineer has assured the Association that the building is not in imminent danger and is safe for continued occupancy while the repairs are being made.”