Construction of 87 Terra Park damaged Champlain, lawsuit says

Eighty Seven Park and South Champlain Towers (Getty)

The Eighty Seven Park development team ignored warnings about the damage the tower construction caused to the Champlain Towers to the south, which resulted in the deadly collapse of the Surfside condominium, according to a new lawsuit.

The complaint alleges that developer Terra of Eighty Seven Park, headed by David Martin, and his team of contractors and engineers moved forward with building the luxury condominium “out of greed, speed or, quite possibly, of the two ”, despite the recommendations regarding the safety methods of his own engineer, according to the costume. He says the “negligence and gross negligence” of the defendants caused the tragedy.

The 169-page lawsuit, filed Tuesday night in Miami-Dade circuit court, is against subsidiaries of Terra and its team of contractors and engineers who worked on Eighty Seven Park, including general contractor Moriarty & Associates. The lawsuit, which seeks class action status, was filed on behalf of the survivors, the deceased and their families.

“The way Terra Group developed this was the direct and immediate cause of the collapse,” lawyer Harley Tropin, who represents the victims, said at a court conference Wednesday morning on litigation related to the collapse, adding that Champlain was already fragile. “Terra was aware of the risks and then proceeded.”

Statements from attorneys representing 8701 Collins Development, the Terra-led entity that completed the luxury condo tower three years ago, “categorically” deny the allegations in the lawsuit and blame others.

“As numerous media have documented, the Champlain South Towers were poorly designed, poorly constructed, significantly underfunded, and poorly maintained and repaired,” said Greenberg Traurig attorney David Weinstein, who represents 8701 Collins Development, in a press release.

In a statement, John Moriarity echoed this, saying the construction of Eighty Seven Park had no effect on Champlain. “The work was completed two years before the collapse and more than four to five years after the completion of the earthworks,” the statement said.

The 18-story Eighty Seven Park, located at 8701 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, was completed in 2019 just south of Champlain Towers South. The 12-story Champlain at Surfside collapsed in the early morning of June 24, killing nearly 100 people.

The geotechnical engineer and project inspector of Eighty Seven Park had prepared a report warning of impacts on nearby buildings like the South Champlain Towers, and explained how the work should be carried out to comply with the regulations. The report also provided several construction methods, including those that would minimize the effects on neighboring buildings.

However, the team has repeatedly gone by default for the cheapest but “most disruptive and dangerous” site preparation methods, according to the complaint. He alleges that they “tilted their project so that water spilled” into the South Champlain towers and “corroded its structural supports”.

In one case, they chose to use a more conventional method of excavating the basement by driving sheet piles, even though the developing inspector’s report warned of “damaging vibrations” to nearby buildings. and described other methods that could be used without creating vibrations. , says the costume. Some of these alternative methods were more expensive and would have taken longer, according to the complaint.

While the original plan was to monitor sheet pile vibrations all the time, that eventually changed, and the vibrations ended up only being monitored once in a while, depending on the combination. According to an inspector’s report cited in the complaint, the installation of sheet piling near Champlain’s south foundation wall exceeded industry standards for vibrations of 0.5 inches per second for almost all of the work.

Weinstein responded in his statement that the vibrations were “well below the maximum threshold for safe vibration levels” for residential structures.

The statement from Moriarty & Associates added that permanent sheet piles were installed in the south wall of Champlain during its construction, thus preventing any impact from the work carried out on the site to the north.

“The collapse of the tower is a terrible tragedy, but the facts speak for themselves. Champlain Towers South has suffered from a long history of inherent design flaws, substandard construction methods and inadequate maintenance, ”said Moriarty & Associates.

During the construction of Eighty Seven Park, residents of Champlain complained of “daily tremors” in their homes and elsewhere in their building in a letter to Terra. But the developer instead chose to hire a lawyer and tried to “evade liability” by offering $ 200,000 in 2019, according to the complaint. That offer was later raised to $ 400,000, the Washington Post previously reported, but the association did not accept it.

Martin de Terra told his development team in a March 2019 email not to allow complaints from nearby residents to block construction on his project, according to the complaint. Martin reportedly wrote, “Keep moving the work forward. If there are any problems with the city, call my cell. The city will help us, they want us to finish. Don’t let any neighbor delay us.

Terra purchased the site of its Eighty Seven Park in 2013 for $ 65 million, with the aim of renovating and preserving the Dezerland Hotel and adding a condominium to it. That plan changed and Terra got city zoning approval for her new tower.

The complaint alleges that Terra also engaged in a “secret negotiation” to purchase 87th Terrace, the 50-foot road separating the two properties, allowing the developers of Eighty Seven Park to extend their footprint closer to Champlain Towers South and to increase the density of their project. The Terra-led entity took control of the street through a deal with the city of Miami Beach that provided the city with a voluntary payment of $ 10.5 million. The complaint alleges that there was “nothing ‘voluntary’ in the payment”.

Without the 87th Terrace, Eighty Seven Park would have been built 60 to 70 feet from the Champlain Towers, but it ended up being 10 feet from Champlain’s exterior foundation wall and support columns, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was also filed against the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association and Morabito Consultants, the engineer hired by the association to inspect the structural integrity of the property as part of the required 40-year certification, as well as against the law firm of the Becker & Poliakoff association.

Becker & Poliakoff and Morabito did not immediately return requests for comment.


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