Evacuated Crestview Towers condo owners in North Miami Beach sue association over lack of repairs
More than 300 evacuated from Crestview Towers last week
Four unit owners at Crestview Towers, the North Miami Beach condominium evacuated last week over an engineer’s findings that it was structurally unsafe, sued the association for allegedly failing to make repairs.
Crestview Towers Condominium Association in 2019 said it would levy assessments to fix wall cracks, painting and window improvements. But it seems that these repairs were not completed, said attorney Paul Arcia, who filed the complaint in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on Wednesday on behalf of the unit owners. The two-year assessments ranged from $96 to $122 per unit, according to an email blast sent to owners.
“It looks like they did not do any of the repairs, despite the fact that they collected the special assessments,” Arcia said.
Crestview’s condo association and its attorney Mariel Tollinchi did not return requests for comment on the suit.
Arcia said allegations related to the lack of repairs are based on a B & A Engineering report that found the building structurally and electrically unsafe. The report is dated Jan. 11 but was filed to the city on Friday, prompting the immediate evacuation of more than 300 residents at the 152-unit Crestview at 2025 Northeast 164th Street.
The report’s submission and evacuation followed a countywide rush to inspect older buildings in the wake of the deadly Champlain Towers South condo collapse in Surfside. The death toll rose to 60 on Thursday afternoon, a day after officials transitioned from a search and rescue mission to search and recovery.
The 2019 Crestview email blast to residents also said a generator would be fixed, but it is unclear if it was covered by the assessments. The B & A report determined an emergency generator did not work at the time of inspection. It also found cracks, spalled concrete and rebar, and distressed beams and columns.
In March, the condo management firm also told residents the city had sent notices saying that it would close the building, the suit says.
“The management company further stated, ‘As you will know, nothing has ever been fixed in this building,’” according to the complaint.
The unit owners who filed suit include Mel Trustees, as trustee of the land trust No. 32006; Carlos A. Marin as Trustee of Land Trust No. 45380; Mel Trustees, as trustee of the Emma Land Trust; and Marin, Eljaiek & Lopez, P.L., as Trustee of the Land Trust No.125600. They sued the association alleging negligence, breach of contract and of fiduciary duty.
The association also allegedly failed to complete a Miami-Dade County requirement for a 40-year recertification. Built in 1972, Crestview’s recertification was due in 2012. A slew of planned repairs were posted on the building’s website roughly two weeks before the evacuation, but they are “very generic and did not talk about anything that was addressed in the engineer’s report,” Arcia said.
While a condo tower is not expected to immediately complete needed repairs at the 40-year mark, Crestview does not seem to have a definitive work plan outlined 10 years later after its recertification was due, he said.
“No one completes all the work on time,” Arcia said. “But at least if they had some sort of a plan, then perhaps we could excuse this.”