Inside Tumultuous Before Florida Condo

The board of the condo association and the tenants of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida were still at odds seven months before the building collapsed.

A construction error and “severe structural damage” were cited in a 2018 engineering study. Rather than being inclined, the structural slab had become flat. This caused water to pool on the ground instead of draining away. As the columns supporting it deteriorated, the concrete began to crumble.

Inside Tumultuous Before Florida Condo

Inside Tumultuous Before Florida Condo

A month after that October 2018 report, a Surfside town official reportedly assured residents that their building was “in fine shape.” However, the structure of the building deteriorated over the subsequent two years.

The same engineer who performed the initial examination also discovered worsening issues throughout subsequent inspections. In Miami-Dade County, older multi-story structures must undergo a safety recertification process every 40 years.

An Emergency PowerPoint

According to recently discovered papers, the board and residents were presented with an emergency PowerPoint by the property manager on the 10th and 11th of November, 2020.

Added caution: “No Matter What We Do, It Will Be Expensive. The majority of the budget will go towards necessities (concrete, roof, generator room, fire wall), rather than frills.”
Repairs to the structure were projected to cost $9 million in 2018.

The numbers, however, grew to almost $12 million by 2020. It was proposed that a $15 million line of credit be established by the board so that repairs could get underway. Individual condo owners would likely have to fork down around $100,000.

The presentation gave citizens information about their choices, which included a vote to raise the city’s emergency fund. There was also a slide that declared, “Our structure is at a crossroads.

As a family, we need to make some important choices about the future.” Discontent ran high among the locals. When the next slide came up, it read: “It’s not productive to complain or yell at one other. You may learn what the majority wants by voting.”


Condominium board president Jean Wodnicki sent a letter to residents in April 2021, emphasising that talk of repairs had been going on for years and that concrete issues were getting worse quickly.

“When the concrete spalls (cracks), that signifies the rebar holding it together is rusting and decaying beneath the surface,” Wodnicki stated.

The board approved applying for a $15 million line of credit on April 13, 2021, according to documents supplied. Condominium fell two months after structural repairs had barely even begun.