Residents of a 164-unit Miami Beach condominium were evacuated Thursday after engineers raised concerns about a deteriorated garage beam that they suspect supports the entire building.
City officials and the condo board ordered the 14-story Port Royale Condominium at 6969 Collins Avenue emptied in a notice issued shortly before 5 p.m., which asked residents to be out by 7 p.m., the Miami Herald reported.
Inspection Engineers, a Hialeah-based firm that was overseeing garage repairs at the 51-year-old building, alerted the condo board of “continuous deterioration” of a “main beam” in the garage’s third-level mezzanine.
The firm informed city officials in a letter Thursday that the beam “might support the entire building,” although that speculation is based on visual observations, as the firm didn’t have the structure’s original calculations and designs.
The firm found that one of the main beams had moved roughly half an inch from its original position when the repair work began about a month ago, and also that an existing crack in the structure had expanded, according to its report.
Both the beam and crack had already been identified as in need of repairs.
Inspection Engineers recommended shoring, a method of reinforcing damaged areas, and is working with an expert to provide calculations and designs.
The work could take 10 days, although engineers will then need to re-inspect the building before residents can return to their homes.
The scare over Port Royale’s structural integrity is the latest to reverberate in South Florida since the deadly collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, which killed almost 100 people in June of last year.
In the weeks following the collapse, North Miami Beach officials ordered the 156-unit Crestview Towers Condominium at 2025 Northeast 164th Street evacuated in light of a report that deemed the 10-story building structurally and electrically unsafe.
The report was dated Jan. 11, 2021, but wasn’t submitted to the city until July 2, a week after the Surfside collapse.
In August of last year, a 138-unit condo building at 5050 Northwest Seventh Street near Miami International Airport was evacuated after an engineer found columns that were “structurally insufficient.”
Under a county law imposed after the Champlain collapse, building owners have to provide up to three months of housing and related costs to displaced residents when buildings are deemed unsafe because of negligent maintenance.
Given just two hours’ notice Thursday afternoon, Port Royale residents rushed to pack their belongings and arrange for a temporary place to stay.
Katie, a 27-year-old renter in the building, told the Herald she will stay in her parents’ home in Palm Beach County.
“Luckily I have a place to stay, but it’s definitely not ideal,” she told the publication. “I work in Miami.”