Miami building officials ordered the emergency evacuation of an eight-story condominium building on Aug. 9 after determining that unauthorized contractor repairs were putting residents at risk by worsening known structural problems.
The directive followed a visit by city inspectors to the 138-unit building, known by its address, 5050 NW 7th Street. There, they found an unnamed contractor carrying out unauthorized first-floor column repairs that Miami Building Director Asael Marrero told local reporters, “degraded” the building’s structural integrity.
“We felt the building occupants were not safe,” Marrero said of the sudden evacuation directive.
Built in 1973, the condominium building was already on the city’s list of unsafe structures, based on field inspection photographs taken this past May. The building was also overdue for a city-mandated 40-year condition recertification, a requirement for retaining its occupancy permit.
A full assessment by city inspectors on July 27 revealed that the condominium’s first floor columns were in need of emergency shoring. The inspectors also cited structural concerns in ordering the immediate closure of a detached elevated garage.
Building residents reported seeing a notice posted by the property management company assuring them that the recertification process was underway, and that an engineer’s report had found no imminent danger of collapse. The report was to be sent along with repair plans, which would get underway as soon as they received city approval, the notice said.
An unidentified engineer notified Miami’s Building Department on Aug. 5 that the building was “safe for current occupancy while the emergency repair work continued.” However, the city insists no plans were ever received nor did it issue any repair permits.
The building was scheduled to be discussed at an Aug. 20 hearing by Miami’s Unsafe Structures Panel, which reportedly has a backlog of more than 1,000 cases dating to before the deadly collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside in late June. Not all the cases represent serious violations, however. Spencer Errickson, supervisor of the city’s Unsafe Structures division, told the Miami Herald that some cases are delayed as the result of litigation, or when repairs are being made.