NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Residents of a five-story apartment building in North Miami Beach have been ordered to evacuate after officials deemed the building “structurally unsound” during its 50-year recertification process, officials said.
The residents of Bayview 60 Homes were ordered out Monday by city officials. It’s the second building ordered evacuated in the city since the collapse of Champlain Towers South last June in nearby Surfside, which killed 98 people.
The building, which was built in 1972 and has 60 units, had been undergoing repairs since July as part of the recertification process, the city said in a statement.
An engineer working on the building sent an email to the building’s owner saying the structure was not safe and residents should be immediately evacuated, City Manager Arthur Sorey told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The engineer copied the city in on the email late Friday but since it was after working hours, city officials did not see it until Monday morning, Sorey said. He said as soon as they did, they contacted the building owner and came up with a plan to evacuate everyone.
“We did speak with the owner and advised the owner that they should have closed the building,” Sorey said. “But once we got the information, we went out and did what we needed to do to protect the lives of North Miami Beach residents.”
He said residents were able to return to their apartments Tuesday to retrieve smaller items, and they would be able to remove furniture starting Friday. Officials will limit the number of people in the building, however, he added.
Austin Harper, who has lived on the sixth floor of the building for three years, was moving the rest of his belongings out Tuesday morning. He said a lot of elderly people and families live in the apartment building and there is just one elevator being used by all residents.
“For me, I’m more of bachelor life so I can move out easily. Some people have lived here 10 years, plus,” Harper said. “But ultimately it’s about the safety for a lot of the elderly people and myself.”
Residents were given three-day hotel vouchers to help in the immediate future and the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust and the American Red Cross will help with housing if they have difficulty finding accommodations, Mayor Anthony DeFillipo said.
In addition, the building’s owner is returning April rent and security deposits within 72 hours, Sorey said.
“One thing to note is the rents in this building that just closed are between $1,500 and $1,900 a month. And If you know anything about South Florida that is very cheap rent right now and affordable,” Sorey said. “That’s going to be the issue right now with those individuals trying to find something along the same lines and the same price. It’s going to be very hard.”
The building is in a section of North Miami Beach known as Eastern Shores, which features apartment buildings on finger canals along the Intercoastal Waterway. The one and two bedroom apartments are about 750 square feet (70 square meters).
Shortly after the Surfside condominium collapse, North Miami Beach officials ordered the evacuation of the 10-story Crestview Towers Condominium. Residents of that building, which is about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the collapsed Surfside site, have not been allowed back.
After the collapse, Miami-Dade County began surveying high-rise condominium buildings to make sure they met safety standards. Some smaller units around the county have also been evacuated since June.
Frisaro reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Associated Press writer Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.
A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Mayor Anthony DeFillipo’s name.