In Collapsed Building’s Twin, Most Residents Are Staying Put

SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) -
This photo shows a sister building of a condominium that partially collapsed last Thursday, in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

About a block from the Miami-area beachfront condominium tower that collapsed sits its sister building, erected a year later by the same company, using the same materials and a similar design. It has faced the same tides and salty air.

This has made some residents of Champlain Towers North worried enough to leave, though most have remained, saying they are confident their almost 40-year-old, 12-story building is better maintained. They say their building doesn’t have the same problems with cracking in support beams and in the pool area that 2018 engineering reports show the south tower had.

The collapse of Champlain Towers South in the town of Surfside on Thursday has drawn attention to older high-rise buildings throughout South Florida and prompted Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to order a 30-day audit of whether such buildings under her jurisdiction are complying with a required recertification of structural integrity at 40 years. She said she wants any issues raised by inspections to be immediately addressed. She’s also urged municipalities within the county to follow suit. Miami, for example, has launched a 45-day audit of buildings six stories and higher that are 40 years old or older.

Inspectors performed a quick-hit examination of the north building and Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said nothing was found that indicates the tower is in danger of collapse.

North tower residents who want to temporarily relocate are being offered federal assistance, just as survivors from the south tower are.

Surfside Mayor Burkett said a deep-dive inspection of the north tower will be conducted Tuesday by an engineering firm hired by the residents. The town will inspect other older buildings soon. Given the results of the preliminary examination of the north tower, he said he doesn’t see a reason to order an evacuation. Still, he said, he’s not sure he would stay there.

“If you asked me if I wanted to spend the night in that building, I’d be a little … I wouldn’t be willing to do that until we went through it,” he said.