UPDATED, April 5, 9:13 p.m.: North Miami Beach declared a bayfront apartment building unsafe and ordered its immediate evacuation on Monday, marking the second residential building in the city to go through a similar ordeal following the deadly Surfside condo collapse last summer.
The Bayview 60 Homes apartment building, at 3800 Northeast 168th Street, will be fully evacuated as of Tuesday at 2 p.m., said North Miami Beach City Manager Arthur Sorey III. The city received a letter from the property owner’s engineer on Monday that prompted the immediate evacuation. It was submitted on Friday, he said.
“The foundation is shifting, and it’s shifting fast,” Sorey told The Real Deal.
Property records show Bayview 60 Homes LLC, a Coral Gables-based entity, owns the five-story, 60-unit apartment building. It obtained ownership of the 1-acre property in June 2018 via a quit claim deed from a Panamanian corporation. The building is in the Eastern Shores neighborhood of North Miami Beach.
The current owner is linked to Ninotchka Hecht, Ronald Salinas and Maria Dolores Nardi Ariza, state records show. The owner’s attorney, Jacob Joseph Givner, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Hecht previously worked for PDVSA, or Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., Venezuela’s state-owned oil and natural gas company, according to her LinkedIn. And Nardi was also linked to the previous owner, the Panamanian company Kina Investment.
In November 2018, the U.S. government announced its planned seizures of high-end properties in South Florida that it alleged were tied to the defendants of a money laundering scheme in which top Venezuelan officials and professional money launderers siphoned $1 billion from PDVSA. The North Miami Beach building was not part of the seizure.
The apartments were built in 1972, and the owner had been repairing units ahead of its 50-year recertification, Sorey said.
A spokesperson for Bayview 60 Homes said in a statement that the company has “moved forward with planned safety upgrades, major renovations, and routine maintenance to the property” in recent years, and hired a structural engineering firm as part of the process. “Upon being notified the building may be structurally unsound, the company notified the city and asked residents to evacuate to ensure their safety,” the spokesperson said.
The letter from the engineer described “critical structural issues” and the need for an immediate evacuation “due to a deflection in the elevation of the building’s floor slabs,” according to a press release from the city. Bronislaus P. Taurinski Structural Engineers is the engineering firm that inspected the property.
The owner is expected to provide tenants with three nights of hotel stays and then terminate the leases of all the tenants, Sorey said. About 55 of the 60 units were occupied, and monthly rents typically ranged from $1,500 to $1,900 a month, he said. The owner will refund rent for April as well as the security deposits, Sorey said.
Sorey said the property marks the second in North Miami Beach to be deemed unsafe and evacuated since the Surfside collapse. Crestview Towers was evacuated in July, less than two weeks after the Champlain Towers South building fell unexpectedly and killed 98 people.
Building departments across South Florida scrambled to inspect older properties after the June tragedy. Because older buildings housed some of the more affordable condos and apartments in the region, more people have been displaced. That, along with increasing apartment rents and home prices, has fueled the region’s housing crisis.
In Miami Beach, after developer Mast Capital acquired the majority of units at an older oceanfront building on Collins Avenue, the city declared the building unsafe and had it evacuated. In its place, Mast Capital plans to build a 100-unit ultra-luxury condo called The Perigon with Starwood Capital Group.