City orders evacuation of Florida condo building deemed unsafe


NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The city of North Miami Beach ordered the evacuation of a condominium building Friday after a review found unsafe conditions.

The city said in a news release that an audit prompted by the deadly collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside found the 156-unit Crestview Towers structurally and electrically unsafe.

“In an abundance of caution, the City ordered the building closed immediately and the residents evacuated for their protection, while a full structural assessment is conducted and next steps are determined,” City Manager Arthur H. Sorey III said in the news release.

After reviewing files, the city Building and Zoning Department sent a notification that the Crestview building was not in compliance. On Friday, the building manager submitted a recertification report in which an engineer hired by the condo association board found the property unsafe. The city then ordered all residents to evacuate immediately.

The North Miami Beach Police Department was helping with the evacuation of residents of the Crestview, which was built in 1972. The building is about 5 miles northwest of the disaster site in Surfside.

North Miami Beach commissioner Fortuna Smukler rushed to the building Friday afternoon. She said authorities were working to help the evacuated residents find places to go. She said with the approaching storm it was an especially stressful time for the residents. Smukler knows two people who are still unaccounted for in the Surfside building collapse.

“I ran here right away because this is important to me. I needed to ensure that what happened in Surfside doesn’t happen here,” she said. “It could have been our building instead of Surfside.”

Court records showed the Crestview Towers Condo Association had sued its insurance company for unspecified damages from Hurricane Irma in 2017. The damages had exceeded $30,000, but the association never got a payment to cover the damages, the lawsuit said.

The parties were ordered into mediation last May, according to a Miami-Dade court docket.

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