Crestview Towers, the condominium tower that the city of North Miami Beach shut down and evacuated due to structural concerns about the building’s safety, has amassed 39 code violations, including failing to have a working fire alarm system.
“Because Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has now deemed the building unsafe, Crestview Towers must remain closed and unoccupied until the violations are resolved,” the city said Friday evening in a press release.
Last Friday, July 9, a week after the city shuttered the building, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue reinspected the building and found the 39 code violations, including the non-working fire alarm system and a non-working emergency generator, the city said.
Other violations included not having the correct number of exit signs and missing handrails.
In its report, MDFR requested that, at a minimum, the fire alarm system, fire pump and emergency generator be restored to full operation before residents can return to the building. Fire Rescue also noted the building will need the sprinkler system to be retrofitted by Jan. 1, 2024.
Miami-Dade County says building unsafe for occupancy
Based on these fire and safety violations, Miami-Dade County deemed the condominium unsafe for occupancy, independently from the city.
Crestview Towers was constructed in 1972 and is subject to the county’s 40-year recertification process, which requires older buildings to be inspected by structural engineers to determine whether they are still safe to live in. There has been a renewed focus on the 40-year recertification process since the Champlain Towers South condominium building partially collapsed on June 24 in Surfside, killing nearly 100 people.
The city ordered Crestview Towers to close and all residents be evacuated on July 2 after a building inspection report from earlier in the year found it not safe for occupancy due to structural and electrical issues.
On Friday, the city released the electrical and structural engineering portions of the condominium’s 40/50-years recertification report, which were submitted to the city this week. These reports say the building is both electrically and structurally safe, contradicting what the county, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and the city have found.
In his July 9 electrical inspection report, Marlin Brinson, a Miami consulting engineer hired by the condo board, wrote the following:
“With the exception of six condominium apartment units (#214, #217, #401, #410, #917, #1003) AND the entire swimming pool/ pool deck area, We conclude from our inspection that the above referenced structure is electrically safe for its present use and occupancy.”
Brinson also outlined several must-do actions the condominium association has to take once residents are allowed back in, including having each condo owner sign an affidavit within 48 hours of reoccupying the building, attesting to the the installation of a functional smoke detector. He also called for making sure stairwell emergency lights worked and that holes and penetrations in electrical room walls, ceiling and floor were filled.
Structural Engineer Fernando Azcue, also hired by the condominium, deemed the building structurally safe after a visual inspection. He said the condominium is safe for occupancy as concrete repairs are performed.
City disagrees with engineers hired by condo
North Miami Beach Building Official J. Daniel Ozuna did not agree with either of the conclusions by the structural or electrical engineers hired by the condo association.
“Clearly, I cannot concur that the building is safe structurally when the building is unsafe electrically,” Ozuna wrote.
He said the city’s structural reviewer submitted questions to the structural engineer, but the city has not received any answers, preventing the city from completing its review of the second recertification report.
Along with Miami-Dade County and Fire Rescue, Ozuna also deemed the condominium structurally and electrically unsafe.
It’s been nearly a week since residents were able to enter their homes again. Those displaced were allowed a maximum of 15 minutes to retrieve essential items — and with a police officer as escort.
Residents have been scrambling to find a place to live. Some have been staying in hotels, while others have been staying at family members’ or friends’ houses.
The city did not indicate when Crestview Towers will open again.