Surfside building collapse: Who are the owners of Champlain Towers?

Champlain Towers South, the building that collapsed in the municipality of Surfside had 138 registered owners


                            Surfside building collapse: Who are the owners of Champlain Towers?
Aerial view of partial collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A multi-story structure in Miami's Surfside neighborhood partially collapsed on Thursday, June 24, killing one person, injuring several others and leaving over 99 people still unaccounted for. The collapse prompted questions about the identity of the owners of the building. The 12-story residential building partially fell in southern Miami-Dade County, roughly 6 miles north of Miami Beach, near the small coastal community of Surfside. The condo complex is reportedly one block from Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's Miami home.

At around 1.30 am local time, the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue received a call concerning a partial collapse at the Champlain Towers South condominium. On June 23, a pedestrian bridge on DC-295 in Northeast Washington, DC, fell after it suddenly collapsed. At least six people were hurt, according to reports. Last year, a major freeway bridge caved in near the Italian city of Genoa, killing at least 35 people.

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As teams searched the wreckage for survivors, a large search and rescue operation was launched and horrifying photos of the tragedy went viral. So far, 35 persons trapped inside the building, two of whom were beneath the rubble, have been rescued, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue assistant chief Ray Jadallah. At least ten people were treated on the spot, according to Jadallah, while two more were transported to local hospitals. One of them died as a result of his injuries. The seaside condominium comprises 136 units, according to Jadallah, with around 55 of them collapsing on the northeast corridor.

A Miami-Dade Fire Rescue person and a K-9 continue the search and rescue operations in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Who are the owners of Champlain Towers?

Champlain Towers South, the building that collapsed in the municipality of Surfside on Thursday morning, had 138 registered owners. While LLCs and investment organizations hold some apartments, the majority are owned by individuals or couples, according to Boca News Now. Many of the retirees in the complex are either owners or renters. According to the Herald, which spoke to Compass Realtor with numerous listings in the building, around 70% of the 130 units were occupied at the time by primary or secondary homeowners, It's unclear how many other units were being rented out for short periods of time.

Champlain Towers South Associates, a group of developers that included the late philanthropist Nathan Reiber, erected the Champlain Towers South Condo at 8777 Collins Ave. in 1981. Champlain Towers North Condo, a smaller structure with fewer units, was constructed at the same time. In 1991, a third structure, Champlain Towers East Condo, was erected, The Miami Herald reported.

All three towers are 12 floors tall, but the South tower, which contains 136 units, is the tallest. According to Daniel Ciraldo, executive director of the Miami Design Preservation League, it was the first project developed in Surfside after Miami-Dade County put a ban on new constructions in the 1970s.

 Luz Marina holds a picture of her aunt, Marina Azen, who she said is missing after the partial collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo tower that she was in on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Riddled with problems in its water and sewer systems and struggling financially since the 1970s, developers paid Surfside $200,000 in late 1979 — half of the cost for a new sewer system,  Ciraldo said, to get Champlain Towers off the ground. The tower was marketed as a high-end condominium, with advertisements boasting of "beautiful" residences, which ranged in size from one to three bedrooms, and its closeness to the Bal Harbour Shops. Each floor of the structure included between 10 and 12 units, according to the drawings.

USA Today cites Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment, who said the building, which was constructed in 1981, has been sinking at an alarming rate since the 1990s, as per his 2020 study. Wdowinski remembered it from the study, when he heard the news of the Miami building collapse. “I looked at it this morning and said, ‘Oh my god.’ We did detect that,” he said. While he mentioned that his research cannot pinpoint the cause of the collapse. The building was sinking at a rate of about 2 millimeters a year in the 1990s and could have slowed or accelerated in the time since, he said. 

 “What people think is that buildings last forever. That’s a bad comment,” Bruce Masia, Vice President at KWPMC said to Miami CBS. “Buildings on the water decay faster, proven fact ask any engineer, scientist they are going to tell you materials break down much faster than something that’s inland one hundred percent.”

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