Approximately a block from the collapsed Miami-area beachfront condominium skyscraper is its sister structure, which was constructed a year later using the same materials and a similar design. It has been subjected to the same tides and saline air.
This has caused some inhabitants of Champlain Towers North to flee, however the majority have remained, stating their confidence in the building’s nearly 40-year-old, 12-story condition. They claim their building does not have the same issues with cracking in support beams and in the pool area as the south tower had in 2018, according to engineering reports.
The collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside on Thursday has heightened awareness of older high-rise buildings throughout South Florida, prompting Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to order a 30-day audit to determine whether such buildings within her jurisdiction are complying with a 40-year structural integrity recertification requirement. She stated that she wants any faults raised during inspections to be remedied immediately. Additionally, she has asked communities throughout the county to follow likewise. Miami, for example, has begun a 45-day assessment of structures six floors or higher that are at least 40 years old.
Inspectors conducted a short inspection of the north structure, and Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett stated that nothing indicated the tower was in imminent risk of collapsing.
This did not satisfy everyone.
“I am terrified of returning,” Rebecca Weinstock, a snowbird who purchased a sixth-floor condo in the north building with her husband four years ago, said. She is still in New York, where she was when the south tower collapsed early Thursday, killing at least 11 people and leaving 150 more unaccounted for.
While she acknowledges that the north building is properly kept, she asserts that this does not suffice to reassure her that it is entirely secure. It was finished one year after the south tower and was constructed by the same developer, Nathan Reiber, through his company, Nattel Construction. Because the fall could have been caused by a design or construction mistake, she is unlikely to return anytime soon.
“I have lost my investment, my apartment, and my future, but we are talking about people’s lives here,” she explained. She stated that she will return only if two independent engineers — not from South Florida — concur that it is safe.
Federal help is being offered to occupants of the north tower who wish to temporarily relocate, just as survivors of the south tower are.
However, the majority of residents interviewed Monday agree with Philip and Nora Zyne, who are remaining in their fifth-floor condo. The Zynes purchased their apartment 12 years ago and have been a full-time resident for six of those years. They have a number of pals and acquaintances who were residents of the south tower and are still missing.
“I have never seen any significant structural issues” in the north structure, according to attorney Philip Zyne. “I am not concerned at all at the moment. I do intend to obtain a comprehensive structural engineering and forensic examination.”
Zyne claimed he had seen multiple inspectors in his building since the fall, but only a few people packing their belongings to leave.
“By no means is this a mass exodus. I would estimate that around a fifth of the building is still standing,” he said.
Salomon Gold, who served as president of the condominium association for the north tower for ten years and on the board for twenty, is certain the building is safe, stating that he and the other board members never cut corners on upkeep. He compared the collapse of the building to that of an airplane: just because one crashes, does not mean that others of the same make and model would follow suit.
“We are in good health,” Gold, 89, stated. Naum Lusky, the current president of the condominium association, declined to comment Monday.
Surfside Mayor Burkett announced Tuesday that a resident-hired engineering firm will undertake a deep-dive investigation of the north tower. The town will shortly conduct inspections of additional older structures. Given the preliminary evaluation of the north tower’s results, he stated that he sees no cause to order an evacuation. He is still unsure whether he would stay there, he stated.
“If you asked me if I wanted to spend the night in that structure, I would be a little hesitant… I would not agree to it until we had gone through it,” he stated.
Esther Drachman and her husband are hedging their bets. The north tower is home to Drachman’s 91-year-old mother-in-law.
“Because my mother-in-law is bedridden, we escorted her out of the hospital and brought her to our home,” Drachman explained. “We just felt like we could not get her out in five minutes” in the event of an emergency evacuation.
Drachman stated that her mother-in-law was unconcerned and unaware of the disaster’s circumstances. She and her husband are awaiting the results of a comprehensive inspection.
“We will see if the building is in good condition,” Drachman said. “And if it is, we will reinsert her.”