Construction on hold at Vlad Doronin’s Una Residences in Miami following water table breaches

At least two water breaches have occurred since October

OKO Group CEO Vlad Doronin in front of the Una Residences construction site (Courtesy of Annette-Lopez Munoz, Getty Images/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
OKO Group CEO Vlad Doronin in front of the Una Residences construction site (Courtesy of Annette-Lopez Munoz, Getty Images/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

UPDATED, Nov. 17, 6:52 p.m.: Construction is on hold at the construction site of Una Residences luxury condo tower in Miami’s Brickell, after a series of breaches of the water table.

Two groundwater breaches have occurred at the site at 175 Southeast 25th Road since October, and residents of neighboring properties have voiced their concerns about the impact the breaches could have on their buildings, especially in the wake of the deadly Surfside condo collapse.

Vlad Doronin’s OKO Group and partner Cain International are developing Una Residences, a planned 47-story, 135-unit tower. Civic Construction Company is the general contractor.

A rendering of the planned building at 175 Southeast 25th Road

The residential high-rise is expected to have the deepest and most expensive underground garage at a cost of about $25 million, according to a press release the developers issued a year ago when construction began. The 100,000-square-foot garage will be nearly 50 feet — or three stories — below sea level and will fit 236 cars. The release said the “challenging and costly” process is in contrast to what developers typically do, which is build a parking pedestal above ground, below the residential units.

Workers have been excavating the site to essentially build a bathtub foundation that would prevent water from entering the garage.

Courtesy of Annette Lopez-Munoz

Courtesy of Annette Lopez-Munoz

In a statement, Civic Construction’s William Real said that “water intrusion of this nature is common during the early stages of high-rise developments in the region.” Real said “the source of these leaks is the water table, which does not interact with Biscayne Bay or drinking water.”

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The latest breach occurred Friday. Additional leaks could happen as construction moves forward, Real added in his statement.

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City of Miami building officials told Channel 10 that the breach would be capped on Wednesday and a stop work order would be issued shortly afterward. Miami-Dade’s Department of Regulatory & Economic Resources referred to it as an operational issue and not an environmental violation, according to the news station.

Commissioner Ken Russell confirmed the stop work order had been issued and that the breach was capped.

The city will have a geotechnical soil engineer, structural engineer and seismic testing engineer evaluate the site to determine whether construction has affected surrounding properties.

Lee Hefty, a director at the county’s Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM), wrote in an email sent to Brickell homeowners that it appeared the “work to seal the ground at the excavation has not worked adequately, and they have had groundwater seeping in to the excavation area.”

The contractor was expected to reseal the area where the water was coming up, and DERM will continue to monitor the construction site, Hefty wrote, adding that the situation doesn’t currently pose an environmental concern.

The board of directors at one neighboring property, Brickell Townhouse, address residents’ concerns in a letter obtained by The Real Deal. The board wrote that the city will be working with the developer and Brickell Townhouse to test soil from the neighboring building over the next couple of weeks.

The city of Miami building department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.