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Boca Raton takes action to reinspect older condos

14 Boca Raton buildings first to face inspections post-Surfside collapse
Posted at 6:34 PM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 20:53:58-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — After the Champlain Towers South collapse nearly a year ago in Surfside, one Palm Beach County city is acting on its own, crafting an ordinance to create a reinspection program for condos.

Boca Raton is now at the forefront, among the first cities in Florida to pass a law requiring inspections for most condo buildings over 30 years old.

"Hopefully that will never, ever happen again," Peter Rogers, a Boca Raton resident, said referring to the Surfside condo collapse. "I think it's very necessary. Of all things, there's a lot of lives inside of these buildings."

Peter Rogers, Boca Raton resident speaks on condo reinspections
Peter Rogers speaks on the importance of reinspecting condominiums following the Surfside tragedy.

Rogers said he thinks it's about time.

"I think that it's sad that Surfside brought this to the forefront but at the same time, I feel good to know that our leaders are taking the challenge and doing the correct thing," Rogers said.

Palm Beach County waited for the state Legislature, but nothing was ever passed. Boca Raton is now the only city in the county to have acted following the condo collapse.

"It never hurts to have a backstop, to have this last line of defense like this because what we're trying to do is to never see a situation like we did at Surfside," Boca Raton City Council Member Andy Thomson said.

Andy Thomson, Boca Raton council member
Boca Raton Councilman Andy Thomson outlines how the city decided to prioritize reinspecting the older buildings closer to the ocean.

Right now, 14 condos over 30 years old and closest to the water in Boca Raton will be inspected first.

"We are prioritizing those buildings closest to saltwater, with the idea being that the proximity and contact with salt water can lead to a greater degree of corrosion faster," Thomson said.

Building managers said they are in compliance, hoping residents will feel safer.

Devin Wardell, property manager at 750 Ocean in Boca Raton
Devin Wardell hopes the recertification process will give residents peace of mind that they are living in a safe building.

"I think that by doing this would show that not only the management is doing their job, but also that the city is going and giving them a thumbs up that their building is safe, and they have nothing to worry about," Devin Wardell, property manager at 750 Ocean, said.

One-hundred and ninety-one Boca Raton properties must go through this recertification process in the next few years and will have to pay a fee of $500 as part of the city's review of each application.

Thomson said it will cost the city about $250,000 per year to inspect these properties.