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Did Surfside condo have structural issues before deadly collapse?

Tragedy could change protocols moving forward, expert says
Surfside building collapse aerial view, June 25, 2021
Posted at 3:34 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 17:38:05-04

SURFSIDE, Fla. — Following the tragic building collapse in Surfside, WPTV is working to get more information on recent permits and inspections at the Champlain Towers South filed with the town of Surfside.

MORE: Surfside building collapse: How did this happen?

We know that the most recent master permits for the building filed with Miami-Dade County are from 2017 and were related to fire alarm and sprinkler inspections.

But there would have been other building permits and/or inspections filed with the town of Surfside for the 40-year recertification process, which apparently was in its very early stages.

Daniel Ciraldo, the executive director of the Miami Design Preservation League.
Daniel Ciraldo discusses some of the changes that may occur after the building collapse.

A local expert on the process with the Miami Design Preservation League gave insight on how this tragedy could change protocols moving forward.

MORE: Victims file $5 million lawsuit against condo association

Were there any signs that the Champlain Towers South condominium lacked structural integrity before the collapse?

"We don't know what happened with this building, so I wanted to say that, but we do know that they were in that process of looking at the building and looking at the next steps," said Daniel Ciraldo, the executive director of the Miami Design Preservation League.

His organization is a nonprofit that preserves and promotes the architectural and cultural integrity of Miami Beach.

He said the 40-year recertification process varies from county to county.

Ciradlo said it is a code requirement in Miami-Dade County because deterioration in coastal buildings is common.

"It's extremely common, and that's also why Miami-Dade County has one of the strongest recertification programs in the state and beyond," Ciraldo said. "We live in a tropical area. Miami Beach was effectively built on mangrove swamp, so there’s also air conditioning which has a certain temperature inside properties versus the hot temperature outside which does tend to impact the concrete and the rebar within the steel frame of the structures."

Ken Direktor, the condo association's attorney, said Thursday the association hired Morabito consultants to embark on the re-certification process.

Ken Direktor, attorney for Champlain Towers South condo
Ken Direktor says the building underwent a series of inspections in the last several months.

"There have been a series of inspections over the last several months over, to develop the plans for the 40-year certification project, so the building has been thoroughly inspected," Direktor.

At this time, it's unknown if Morabito consultants had submitted a completed inspection report with the town of Surfside building department yet.

WPTV tried to reach Morabito consultants and the owner said he could not comment due to an ongoing investigation.

"Obviously with what I think has happened now, I think there may be a growing call for this recertification program to be strengthened and to apply even for buildings younger than 40 years old," Ciraldo said.

"Do you think that what happened here at Surfside on Thursday is going to completely shape the way that we look at coastal design for the future and repairing these coastal buildings?" asked WPTV reporter Michelle Quesada.

"Absolutely, I think that this is, and this was, the first building of Surfside with this typology after a moratorium had been put in place there in the late 1970s," Ciraldo said. "Obviously the other buildings that are there appear to be safe, but I know the property owners, I'm sure, looking at the conditions there, and just if anything we'll learn and grow and improve after this horrific tragedy."

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