The Weekly Dirt: Condo crisis worsens three years after deadly Surfside collapse

Exorbitant special assessments forcing some owners to list their units at discounts

Condo Crisis Worsens 3 Years After Deadly Surfside Collapse

The tragedy was a huge wake up call for the condo community statewide — from legislators and code enforcement to homeowners, engineers, property managers and condo board members.   

Laws passed in 2022 and 2023 aim to ensure another collapse of that magnitude never happens again. The legislation requires milestone inspections for condo and co-op buildings, structural integrity reserve studies (SIRS) every decade, and the full funding of financial reserves, among other things. As a result, it makes condo living much more expensive.

Those deadlines are quickly approaching, starting at the end of this year. Some associations are working to meet those deadlines. Many have not. 

Unit owners at Mediterranean Village, a condo community in Aventura’s Williams Island, are on the hook for special assessments as high as $400,000 per owner, Channel 10 reported. Homeowner Howard Konetz told the TV station that he and his wife can’t afford the roughly $224,000 assessment for his two-bedroom condo, on top of monthly maintenance fees that have doubled to $3,000 a month. They’ve been trying to sell the unit and have dropped the price repeatedly. The special assessment can’t be passed onto the buyer. 

“At this point in time, maybe I can give it away for pennies on the dollar,” he said.

I spoke with Greg Batista, an engineer who was hired by Champlain Towers South to handle a waterproofing issue about four years before the collapse. Batista said his company is working on 30 to 50 recertifications a month, fewer than 30 SIRS studies, and between 25 and 30 milestone inspections. 

Even though some associations are still putting off complying with the new condo safety laws, demand for engineers and SIRS specialists has skyrocketed. 

Some property managers aren’t even aware of the legislation. Coupled with the property insurance crisis, Batista likened the situation to a tsunami. More unit owners are trying to sell their condos; that’s expected to snowball next year. The vast majority of resale units on the market as of the end of the first quarter of this year are 30 years or older

“I deal a lot with people who live in condos that are in the same or worse shape,” as Champlain Towers South, Batista said. “But these people live on fixed incomes. When I get involved, we’re talking about millions of dollars.” 

What we’re thinking about: Will Miami Seaquarium be evicted from its longtime home in Virginia Key? What would you like to see in its place? Send me a note at


Residential: Debra Levitetz, the ex-wife of a grocery magnate, sold her oceanfront teardown at 3223 North Ocean Boulevard in Gulf Stream for record $39 million. A hidden buyer purchased the estate. 

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Commercial: AMLI Residential sold the 325-unit apartment complex at 3001 Northwest 130th Terrace in Sunrise to Mesirow for $89.4 million. The 6.1-acre complex, called The Retreat at Sawgrass Village, sold for $275,000 per unit. 


The 4.5-acre estate at 3585 Anchorage Way in Coconut Grove hit the market for $135 million, which would set a record for the neighborhood. The late restaurateur and advocate for the LGBTQ community, Jonathan Lewis, owned the property with his husband, Mark Lewis. Their family compound is listed with Douglas Elliman’s Lourdes Alatriste and Holly Parker. It includes two primary homes, a townhome, pools, a dock and boat lift, garages and a gym and spa. 

Condo Crisis Worsens 3 Years After Deadly Surfside Collapse
3585 Anchorage Way in Coconut Grove (Travis Rummel)

A thing we’ve learned 

Billionaire Warren Buffett plans to set nearly all of his remaining wealth into a new charitable trust overseen by his three children when he dies, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO owns nearly $130 billion of the company’s stock. 

Elsewhere in Florida 

  • The FBI raided developer Sergio Pino’s home and office in Coral Gables this week, the Miami Herald reports. The searches were tied to an investigation into alleged threats Pino made against his wife.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis said he vetoed more than $32 million in arts funding across the state in part because he said the money is used in part to pay for “sexual” festivals in Orlando and Tampa, according to the Tampa Bay Times
  • The Florida Panthers won their first-ever Stanley Cup, beating the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. In classic South Florida fashion, they dined at Catch Miami Beach and then partied at the nightclub E11even in Miami, Newsweek reports. 
  • DeSantis vetoed House Bill 165, a water measure bill that would have required the state to issue health advisories if water quality fails to meet standards. The Florida Legislature unanimously approved the bill in March, NBC 6 reports. '

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