Fourth Miami Beach Building Ordered Vacated After Being Deemed Unsafe

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Fourth Miami Beach Building Ordered Vacated After Being Deemed Unsafe:

944 Jefferson Avenue latest to be flagged following Surfside tragedy

A fourth Miami Beach building was ordered vacated by the City after it was deemed unsafe, the result of heightened awareness and a rigorous inspection process after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside which killed 98 people. Residents of 944 Jefferson Avenue in South Beach were relocated following an unsafe structure notice this week.

City Spokeswoman Melissa Berthier said in a text message, “This past Tuesday, the City of Miami Beach posted an Unsafe Structure notice at 944 Jefferson Avenue requiring the building to vacate immediately. This two-story property was remodeling the first floor without a building permit and had removed the fire proofing—creating a life safety issue. The city worked with the property owner to ensure the tenants of the 8 occupied units were safely relocated.”

According to Miami-Dade County property records, the rental building is owned by Manuel Antonio Portas whose mailing address is listed as North Beach. It was built in 1957 and contains 16 units.

Immediately following the Surfside collapse, City Manager Alina Hudak ordered initial inspections of all buildings in Miami Beach that were in their 40/50-year recertification process “to identify any obvious signs of structural concerns.” Prior to the tragedy, Champlain Towers was getting ready for its County-mandated 40-year certification though an engineer’s report flagged structural concerns in 2018. 

There were 507 buildings in the City’s initial inspection process. After visual inspections, the buildings were required to submit reports from licensed professionals detailing structural and electrical system conditions along with a letter stating if a building is safe for occupancy. 

The City has also responded to calls from people reporting unsafe conditions.

Buildings vacated to date include the Devon Apartments at 6881 Indian Creek Drive which is in the process of being redeveloped. According to a report from The Real Deal, 14 residents were displaced.

The 124-unit La Costa building at 5333 Collins Avenue was also vacated following an unsafe structure notice, though published reports did not indicate the number of residents living there at the time. Mast Capital which purchased the building has an application for redevelopment before the Miami Beach Design Review Board. 

The first building ordered evacuated was 1619 Lenox Avenue after inspectors responded to a call regarding a vacant unit in the building. An inspector found a “flooring system failure in that unit and excessive deflection on an exterior wall,” Berthier said at the time. The three-story building has 24 units and, according to Berthier, only one person required assistance with relocation.

Photo courtesy Tania Dean

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