Miami condo developers ‘were accused of PAYING OFF officials to get permits to build doomed tower’
THE developers of the Miami condo that collapsed were previously accused of paying off officials to get permits, it has been reported.
At least nine people are dead and 150 are missing after the 12-story apartment block collapsed on Thursday.
The 12-story condo was developed by an estate partnership including Nathan Reiber who died in 2014, The Washington Post reports.
The developers were accused of contributing to at least two board members' campaigns in a bid to get preferential treatment with permits.
Work on the site couldn’t start because of a 1979 order that suspended construction due to faulty sewers.
Other contractors saw their work blocked and accused the developers of getting preferential treatment, Mail Online reports.
The developers reportedly got their project approved by agreeing to pay around half of the $400,000 bill that it would cost to repair the sewers.
A year later, they asked campaign donations to be returned.
Building work on Champlain Towers South was completed in 1981.
It comes as a report revealed that the apartment block had major “structural damage” and needed widespread repairs.
A 2018 engineering report from Morabito Consultants claimed: “The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas.
"Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially."
The report cited gross structural flaws of the apartment block that required substantial repair of the damaged slabs.
It warned that the underground parking garage was “riddled with abundant cracking”.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told reporters that he will release all documents relating to the condo.
He said: “I’ve asked our clerk and our city attorney and our city manager to dig out every piece of correspondence related to that building and put it on our website, so that’s happening right now.
“And we’re just going to put it out there and let y’all see it, and it’s going to be what it’s going to be.”
Miami-Dade Mayor Danielle Levine Cava said officials will “get to the bottom of what happened”.
Engineers from the federal agency that investigated the collapse of the Twin Towers arrived on site on Friday, the Miami Herald reports.
A Surfside building official stood on the roof of the condo to inspect roof anchor replacements just 14 hours before the disaster occurred, the Palm Beach Post reports.
Jim McGuinness told a town emergency meeting that he saw nothing to suggest beforehand that the building would fall.
He said: "There was no inordinate amount of equipment or materials or anything on that roof that caught my building official’s eye that would make it alarming as to this place collapsing."
McGuinness also confirmed that the building had undergone an inspection every 40 years, as required by Miami-Dade law.
It comes as a map revealed where other buildings are at risk after a 2015 lawsuit complained of cracks in the building.
One resident said the gaps had led to $15,000 worth of water damage.
The map revealed nearby areas where the land is sinking amid coastal flooding.
The study shows an area surrounding Park View Island is sinking at a rate of 2.3mm a year.
Sites in the Flamingo/Lummus area of South Beach and North Bay Village are also sinking.
Coastal flooding risks have been identified in South Beach and Miami Beach.
Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University, was the author of the 2020 report on land subsidence in Miami Beach.
When Wdowinski learned of the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse, he immediately remembered the building from the study.
He said the building was sinking at a rate of approximately two millimeters a year in the 1990s.
But, he warned that the findings are not intended to suggest a reason why the collapse took place.
The 12-story apartment was built on wetlands and underneath its foundation is sand and organic fill, The Washington Post reports.
It was situated on a barrier island that had risen about a foot in the past century due to climate change.
But, experts think it’s too early to say whether climate change caused the condo to destabilize.
At least nine people are dead and 150 are reported missing after the condo “pancaked” on June 24.
Mayor Cava confirmed the death toll rose from five to nine on Sunday.
Miami Beach has issued a state of emergency following similar declarations from Miami-Dade County and Gov. Ron DeSantis.
It comes after president Biden signed an emergency declaration as he ordered federal assistance to the area.
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