Concerns linger over sister Florida condo building, some residents decide not to leave

Southeast

SURFSIDE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Concern remains in Surfside, Florida for residents of the Champlain North Tower after the collapse of the neighboring condo building. The buildings shared an architect, contractors and engineers.

As of Wednesday night, 18 people have been found dead in the south tower rubble, with another 145 people missing. Some residents of the north tower are too scared to return, while others say they’re not going anywhere.

“I am confident, I am 100% sure that right now, based on what I know, I’m not leaving,” said north tower resident Philip Zyne.

His building is not under a mandatory evacuation order.

“There’s no reason I would want to leave,” said Zyne. “But of course, if there’s a thorough examination made and they find some structural defect and one of the columns is cracked and ready to fall, then obviously we would change our mind. But right now, I don’t have any reason to leave. 

Zyne went to a board meeting Sunday and says negotiations were underway to hire a structural engineer. However, various inspectors from different agencies at the local and federal levels have been there.

“They were doing inspections. And obviously, you know, a cursory examination of the building, they came back with a good report saying the building is in excellent shape. And we hope it is and I and I’ve always felt it is,” said Zyne.

He said they’ve been getting most of their information from news reports while they await official word from the board.

“I think our building has been a little slow and giving information,” he said. “But I understand why they want to be sure. They don’t want to say it’s safe. And they may not be or they don’t want to say it’s not safe.”

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But Rebecca Weinstock, who owns condo in Champlain Tower North, is not as certain.

“If I go to sleep, I wonder if I’m going to wake up, like maybe something just snaps. I don’t know,” she said.

She and Zyne both say the building has been quick to take care of issues and she agrees, the board has maintained it well, but that isn’t enough to make her want to go anywhere near it right now.

“I don’t know what’s going on further underneath — inside of the guts. Since it’s the same engineer, the same builder, the same products,” she said.

Zyne says their building doesn’t have the same problems with cracking in support beams and the pool area that a 2018 engineering report shows the south tower had, but the tragic collapse has drawn attention to older high rises throughout South Florida. It prompted the Miami-Dade mayor to order a 30-day audit of whether such buildings are complying with the required 40-year recertifications.

“Well, I put it this way, in the future, if I ever lived in a high rise in Miami Beach, or anywhere, I would want to check very carefully to see what kind of maintenance there is and do a thorough investigation,” said Zyne. 

He says they have had two assessments in recent years — one to reinforce the balconies and another to get a new pool deck.

Zyne says usually people don’t show up to condo board meetings and don’t want to pay the assessments. He believes this may cause some residents to rethink that.

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