The deadly building collapse of the Champlain Towers South pushed state and local governments to start taking a closer look at the condition of older buildings.
A newly passed law moves up the milestone safety inspection for condos, but this new requirement could impact an already overloaded system.
Following the collapse in Surfside, Crestview Towers in North Miami Beach was evacuated for safety concerns. A year later, the property is empty and closed off to the public.
North Miami Beach City Manager Arthur Sorey walked us around the property.
“One of the life safety issues, the standpipes, they are working on correcting,” Sorey said.
He showed us what repairs need to be made for the building to be safe enough for people to return.
“Three safety issues that have to be addressed, prior to, the fire pump, standpipes, and emergency generator,” Sorey said.
Crestview Towers is just one of the more than ten South Florida buildings evacuated for safety issues after the Surfside collapse.
Lawmakers are hoping the newly passed condo reforms will help catch safety issues sooner.
Safety inspections once required for Miami-Dade County and Broward County buildings at 40 years of age will now be required for condo buildings over three stories at the 30-year mark.
Buildings within three miles of the beach will be required to have milestone inspections at the 25-year mark.
Dottie Mazzarella with the International Code Council told NBC 6 that passing this legislation is the first step, but the next step is making sure municipalities have the means to enforce the guidelines.
But NBC 6 Responds found that has proven to be a challenge.
Crestview was nine years late submitting its 40-year inspection.
In Miami, a building at 5050 NW 7thStreet, which was also evacuated, was more than eight years late completing its recertification, according to city records.
“That was very alarming, it was a very chaotic moment,” resident Maria Alejandra Perez said.
A look at Broward County’s Building Safety Inspection Program showed between 2019-2021, more than 14,396 buildings were required to start their 40-year recertifications.
As of May 2022, roughly 20% of the buildings either requested an extension or are working with code enforcement. The latest data also showed the following Broward cities have buildings yet to take action: Hallandale Beach, Lauderdale Lakes, Lighthouse Point, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Tamarac and West Park.
In unincorporated Miami-Dade County, 1,213 buildings are going through the recertification process, according to county records.
There are 1,716 buildings on the unsafe structure list for recertification failures. But this number does not account for all the cases being handled by each city’s individual code enforcement departments because each city manages its own permitting and code enforcement.
With the new law expected to push thousands of South Florida condos into the recertification process sooner than expected, local building departments are looking for ways to keep up.
“It’s not necessarily more people, it’s can we work smarter? Do we have the technology in place to work smarter and faster?” Sorey said.
A legislative analysis found there are more than 900,000 condo buildings in Florida older than 30 years. The new inspection requirement will take effect by the end of 2024.
In the case of Crestview Towers, city leaders told NBC 6 the building has submitted permits to start the repairs needed to return but there is no estimate on when the work will be completed.
Work at 5050 NW 7th Street is expected to start at the end of the month, according to a city of Miami spokesperson.
As of right now, we are told the building is yet to complete the 40-year inspection.