More than 300 residents of a North Miami Beach condominium were evacuated late Friday, months after an inspection report determined the building was structurally unsafe.
The move came hours after Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she signed an order for the portion of the Champlain Towers South that did not collapse to be demolished. No timeframe was given. Levine Cava assured families of the missing during a press conference that the demolition will not interfere with ongoing search and rescue efforts.
The Surfside death toll now stands at 22, after search and rescue crews recovered two more victims from the cave-in of the Champlain Towers South at 8777 Collins Avenue. More than 100 remain missing as search and rescue crews continue to comb through the rubble in hopes of finding survivors.
North Miami Beach City Manager Arthur Sorey III ordered the 156-unit Crestview Towers Condominium at 2025 Northeast 164th Street closed, and said residents must leave immediately. The order followed a recertification report dated Jan. 11 that was submitted to the city Friday afternoon. In the report, an engineer for the condo association deemed the 10-story building structurally unsafe and electrically unsafe, according to NBC Miami.
Separately, tied to Levine Cava’s order to demolish the remaining Champlain Towers South, a county attorney filed a motion Friday in ongoing litigation over the collapse, requesting the receiver’s approval for the demolition. So far, five lawsuits have been filed against the condo association and, in some cases, others.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman shot down the request at an emergency Zoom hearing Friday evening, saying the county is in its full right to condemn and tear down the remaining building without a court order. Hanzman said that if he were to require the receiver’s approval, it could potentially interfere with insurance claims Champlain Towers South’s insurers will pay to survivors and families of the deceased.
Hanzman has appointed attorney Michael Goldberg as receiver to take financial and other decisions on behalf of the Champlain condo association. He allowed Goldberg to disburse up to $10,000 in insurance funds for new housing to each surviving family. Another $2,000 could be given to relatives of the deceased for funeral expenses and related costs.
These are preliminary disbursements from an $18 million liability insurance line. The building also has another $30 million Gear American Insurance policy for the physical structure.