Waterfront North Bay Village condo building deemed unsafe

City officials ordered evacuation of 63-year-old, 36-unit Majestic Isle

North Bay Village mayor Brent Latham and Majestic Isle at 7946 East Drive in North Bay Village (Getty, Twitter/Brent Latham, Google Maps)
North Bay Village mayor Brent Latham and Majestic Isle at 7946 East Drive in North Bay Village (Getty, Twitter/Brent Latham, Google Maps)

A waterfront condo building in North Bay Village undergoing its 60-year-recertification was deemed unsafe by the city on Thursday. Residents have until Tuesday to evacuate the property. 

Part of the ceiling collapsed last week due to significant rainfall, which inspectors say was caused by a leak from a roof drain of the historic three-story, 36-unit Art Deco building at 7946 East Drive, according to CBS News. The partial ceiling collapse resulted in the immediate evacuation of residents of five units. The building has about 55 residents. 

Majestic Isle, built in 1960, had been inspected a week ago as part of the safety recertification process. Some residents believe the evacuation order was premature, the local CBS affiliate reported. The move-outs will be staggered, monitored by North Bay Village police. 

The unsafe structure order adds to dozens issued across South Florida, in the two years since the deadly condo collapse in Surfside. Municipalities have been cracking down on structural safety, with older structures particularly under the microscope. The collapse of Champlain Towers South in June 2021 killed 98 people.

In November, residents of the 164-unit Port Royale condo building at 6969 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach were allowed to return after structural beams were reinforced, about two weeks after an evacuation order. Port Royale is over 50 years old. 

The Florida Legislature also acted following the Surfside collapse, passing a major condo safety law that requires 30-year inspections of condo buildings three stories or taller, or 25-year inspections for buildings within three miles of the coast. Lawmakers are advancing a bill in the current session that would only require earlier inspections for buildings closer to the coast if local agencies decide to require them. 

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The condo safety law passed last year requires buildings to have an architect or engineer complete structural integrity reserve studies, which then determine how much a building has to have in its reserves. The law eliminates condo and homeowners’ associations’ ability to waive the funding of their reserves, giving them until the end of 2024 to raise their monthly dues or enact special assessments to fully fund reserves, if needed, by the start of 2025. 

All condo and co-op buildings that are 30 years or older will have until the end of 2024 to complete their inspections.

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Prior to the collapse, Miami-Dade and Broward counties were the only municipalities with 40-year recertification requirements, which also applies to every decade after residential buildings turn 40. 

Developers are also increasingly targeting older buildings and making offers to buy out the individual owners to then demolish the structures and build new projects. 

— Katherine Kallergis