Sunday, July 3, 2022
July 3, 2022

Linkedin Pinterest

Florida lawmakers take up condo bill in wake of Surfside

By
Published:
4 Photos
Christopher Rosa Cruz installs a large banner at the site of the Champlain Towers South condominium building, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Surfside, Fla. The banner lists the names of the 98 people killed when the building suddenly collapse nearly a year ago.
Christopher Rosa Cruz installs a large banner at the site of the Champlain Towers South condominium building, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Surfside, Fla. The banner lists the names of the 98 people killed when the building suddenly collapse nearly a year ago. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) Photo Gallery

Florida would require statewide recertification of condominiums higher than three-stories tall as a response to the Surfside building collapse that killed 98 people. The issue was added to a special Legislative session Tuesday that was called to address rising property insurance rates.

Legislative leaders reached an agreement to introduce the measure that would require recertification after 30 years, or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles (5 kilometers) of the coast, and every 10 years thereafter. The Champlain Towers South was 40-years-old and was going through the 40-year-recertification process required by Miami-Dade County when it collapsed last June.

At the time, Miami-Dade and Broward counties were the only two of the state’s 67 that had condominium recertification programs.

Similar legislation failed during the regular session that ended in March.

The measure would require condominium associations to provide inspection reports to owners, and if structural repairs are needed, work must begin within a year of the report.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

People who owned condominiums in the Florida building that collapsed nearly a year ago but did not suffer a loss of life among the 98 people who died will share at least $96 million from a court settlement, a judge said Tuesday.

The initial amount for property owners — as opposed to families of the 98 victims of the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside — was previously set at $83 million, but Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman agreed at a hearing that the higher amount was proper for 136 condo owners in the 12-story building.

“What I care about now is finishing this case and getting money into the hands of victims,” Hanzman said, noting that under Florida law, the condo owners could have been assessed a lot of money to pay for the loss of the building.

“This is an outstanding result for the property owners,” the judge said.

The families who lost loved ones in the collapse will share more than $1 billion, lawyers said Tuesday. The exact details of that settlement are to be done by Friday, followed by a hearing for any objections. A billionaire developer from Dubai is set to purchase the 1.8-acre (1-hectare) beachside site for $120 million.

Attorney Harley Tropin, who represents plaintiffs in the case, said the final settlement for deaths in the condo building’s collapse has grown to more than $1 billion, an increase from the $997 million announced in court earlier.

The twin settlements are still in the works but Hanzman said the case should be settled by September, so that victim families and property owners know what to expect. This would still be an unusually quick settlement for a case of this magnitude, lawyers said.

“One of the benefits of a settlement is finality,” the judge said.

Most of the building collapsed suddenly around 1:20 a.m. last June 24 as most of its residents slept. Only three people survived the initial collapse.

No other survivors were found despite the around-the-clock efforts of rescuers who dug through a 40-foot (12-meter) pile of rubble for two weeks. Another three dozen people were in the portion of the building that remained standing, but was ultimately demolished.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is investigating the cause of the collapse, a process that is expected to take years.

In the court case, Judge Hanzman set a noon Friday deadline for a final settlement agreement to be filed. If that does not happen, the judge said he would hold a full hearing on why a final deal has not been reached.

“At some point, this plane has to come in for a landing,” Hanzman said.

Support local journalism

Your tax-deductible donation to The Columbian’s Community Funded Journalism program will contribute to better local reporting on key issues, including homelessness, housing, transportation and the environment. Reporters will focus on narrative, investigative and data-driven storytelling.

Local journalism needs your help. It’s an essential part of a healthy community and a healthy democracy.

Community Funded Journalism logo
Loading...