In the immediate aftermath of the tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers building in Surfside, which took 98 lives, Waldman Barnett client Regent Palace Condominium Association, located just six blocks to the north of Champlain Towers, took counsel from Glen Waldman, co-managing partner of Waldman Barnett, and partner Jeffrey Lam, and decided to be proactive to protect residents in its 70-year-old buildings.
Even before the Champlain Towers tragedy, Regent Palace had retained a structural engineer to conduct a property condition assessment of their two buildings to identify any areas of concern. The report, issued just days after the Surfside condominium collapse, showed several areas of concern. The engineer found that the structural roof system of the Regent Palace buildings was overloaded from a paver system, posing a life-safety issue. The paver system had been installed by a former president of the Association, who is the subject of a pending lawsuit brought by Waldman Barnett on behalf of the Association.
Based on this information, Waldman Barnett advised Regent Palace to have the engineer conduct a follow-up inspection and provide an additional assessment about the potential risks. The firm also recommended that the condominium’s owners and their tenants evacuate the buildings until the follow-up assessment could be completed and they could be assured there were no life-safety risks. Waldman Barnett advised Regent Palace to provide a copy of the engineer’s report to the Town of Surfside and to meet with building officials to alert them of the possible issues.
After the follow-up inspection, which included a structural assessment based on the Town of Surfside’s recommendations to condominiums in the area, showed structurally compromised support columns in the parking garage, Regent Palace immediately began shoring the columns and again advised its owners and their tenants to immediately evacuate the buildings.
By being proactive to identify possible life-safety issues with their buildings and taking immediate steps to correct them, Regent Palace was praised and identified by the Town of Surfside as a model for all condominium associations to follow.
Regent Palace received national attention when its story was featured in The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. It also was featured locally by the Miami Herald and NBC 6 News. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett praised the Regent Palace Condo Association for quickly moving to shore up the buildings and evacuate residents. He told the Miami Herald, “This has been an awakening for every property owner. I don’t think we’re gonna have a catastrophe at that location…because of the responsible actions of these owners.”
A senior Surfside building official interviewed by NBC 6 News also praised Regent Palace for conducting the evacuation in a proactive manner, saying “This is exactly what every condo should be doing.”
Waldman said, “We are incredibly pleased that we were able to provide our clients with timely and sound advice that they acted upon with dispatch and removed the risk of another catastrophic event in South Florida.”