When the Surfside condo building collapsed in all I could think was it was the last thing occupants expected to happen. But they already knew the building in need of major repairs.
According to a new report in The Washington Post,
The president of the board of the Florida condominium that collapsed last week resigned in 2019, partly in frustration over what she saw as the sluggish response to an engineer’s report that identified major structural damage the previous year.
Anette Goldstein was among five members of the seven-member board to resign in two weeks that fall, according to minutes from an Oct. 3 meeting, at a time when the condo association in Surfside was consumed by contentious debate about the multimillion-dollar repairs.
Goldstein wrote in a September 2019 resignation letter,
“We work for months to go in one direction and at the very last minute objections are raised that should have been discussed and resolved right in the beginning.
This pattern has repeated itself over and over, ego battles, undermining the roles of fellow board members, circulation of gossip and mistruths. I am not presenting a very pretty picture of the functioning of our board and many before us, but it describes a board that works very hard but cannot for the reasons above accomplish the goals we set out to accomplish.”
Squabbling over the cost and scope of the work, along with turnover on the volunteer board, dragged out preparations for the repairs for three long years.
Concrete restoration work had not yet begun when the building partially collapsed June 24, but identifying the exact cause of the catastrophe will take months. Despite increasingly dire warnings from the board, many condo owners balked at paying for the extensive improvements, which went from about $9 million to over $15 million as the building continued to deteriorate.
Max Friedman, a former board member who left the board before the 2018 report, said in an interview with WaPost,
“The question is, ‘Why did it take three years to get this point?
“It took a lot of time to get the ball rolling, and of course there was sticker shock. Nobody truly believed the building was in imminent danger.”
Miami-Dade County requires buildings to be inspected and recertified as safe after 40 years. Real estate lawyers say the process often stretches out way beyond that time. Champlain Towers South, was constructed in 1981. Forty years ago.