Miami Beach officials ordered the evacuation of the 14-story Port Royale Condominium building on Oct. 27, after a structural engineer determined the 50-year-old building to be unsafe due to the deflection of a reinforced concrete beam, and other damage, in the third-floor garage. Shoring is expected to be in place by Nov. 6.
"The City of Miami Beach posted an unsafe structure notice yesterday on 6969 Collins Avenue, requiring residents to vacate immediately, based upon a report from the building's structural engineer," says Melissa Berthiel, a Miami Beach spokesperson, in an Oct. 28 email to ENR.
The building is currently undergoing its 50-year recertification, she says, and excessive deflection was discovered in a concrete beam in the garage level.
A letter from engineers of record and threshold inspectors Inspection Engineers Inc. to a city engineer says an initial inspection 10 months ago noted the needed repairs in the garage, and that city engineers were aware of the conditions at that time.
"During this [week's] inspections, we noticed that one of the main beams in the garage had experienced a structural deflection of approximately 1/2 in.," the letter says. "Also, the existing crack that was marked for repair had extended."
Without the original structural calculations or design of the beam, engineers believe it and other beams located in the third-floor garage may support the entire building structure, and therefore made the call to take additional safety precautions while a more comprehensive shoring calculation and design are put in place.
The engineers then called for the building to be immediately evacuated until comprehensive shoring is in place. An expert is working to provide calculations and design on shoring to obtain approval and permits from the city, the letter says, with repairs expected to be in place by Nov. 6.
Engineers will then inspect and evaluate the actual conditions to allow residents to return to their apartments.
According to the Associated Press, the 14-story, 164-unit Port Royale Condominium building was constructed in 1971, and it is the latest of several residential condo buildings that have had to be evacuated due to safety concerns after the deadly June 2021 collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla., which is north of Miami Beach.
The collapse spurred calls for stricter scrutiny of aging structures in Florida, and an ordinance passed by Miami-Dade County in March 2022 requires owners of condo buildings deemed unsafe and subsequently evacuated to pay the costs of displaced residents.
The city of Miami Beach also has rules placing the property owner responsible for tenants' relocation, and Berthier says "the tenant relocation ordinance applies to those who rent in the building as required by municipal code."
That ordinance mentions the Champlain Towers collapse specifically as an impetus for the ordinance passed Sept. 1, 2022, and gives building owners eight hours to "make all necessary arrangements and pay for all reasonable expenses incurred by the residential tenants" in the case of an emergency evacuation.
That includes parking, transportation and storage expenses, as well as meals and moving costs, and if the building remains uninhabitable for more than three months, return their security deposits.
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