North Miami Beach residents of evacuated high-rise can go back — but just to move out after Surfside collapse

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After the deadly condo collapse in Surfside, Fla., an audit of similar buildings in Miami-Dade County prompted North Miami Beach authorities to evacuate and shut down another high rise after a sketchy safety report.

The Champlain Towers South building in Surfside crumbled apart on June 24, leaving at least 97 dead in the early morning hours, as most of the victims were sleeping. Then on July 2, North Miami Beach authorities said that an inspector’s report found serious structural flaws with the 10-story Crestview Towers building 7 miles away.

Now, residents can finally go back – but only to pack up and move out, the city said Wednesday.

Police patrol outside of Crestview Towers, which was evacuated Friday after an audit prompted by the deadly collapse of Champlain Towers found the building structurally and electrical unsafe, Saturday, July 3, 2021, in North Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

“Starting today, residents who want to move out of the building will be able to reserve a time to access their units and remove belongings starting next Monday, July 26,” a city spokesperson said in a statement. “There is no time limit to complete the move, as long as residents finish before the end of the day. However, move-out times are limited by the fact that there is only one functioning elevator in the tower.”

Residents will be accompanied by city police escorts due to safety concerns, but professional movers, friends, family or other helpers will be permitted as well.

Residents had been permitted to retrieve only essential items as of last week.

The evacuations came after the Crestview condo board turned in a building inspection report that found structural deficiencies.

“Following the tragic collapse of Champlain Towers South on June 24, North Miami Beach immediately launched a thorough review of all condo high rise buildings above five stories to determine if they are in compliance with the county and city 40 Year Recertification process and certified as safe for occupancy,” the city said at the time. “Today, Crestview Towers submitted a recertification report, dated Jan. 11, 2021, in which an engineer retained by the condo association board concluded that the 156-unit building was structurally and electrically unsafe.”

The 11-page report, which the city released to the public, shows engineer Robert Barreiro found distressed beams, columns, walls and other damage to the building.

He also found cracks and spalls throughout the structure and signs of moisture intrusion, as well as corroded rebar.

In a summary of the report, he wrote that he found the building “structurally no (sic) safe for the specified use for continued occupancy.”

He found the building’s masonry in “poor” condition and wrote that exposed steel had suffered a “fair amount of corrosion throughout.”

He recommended extensive concrete repairs. The report also found extensive faults in the building’s electrical system.

“Significant…structural repairs will be required,” the report reads.

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