New condo tower could be built at site of Surfside condo collapse

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(SURFSIDE, Fla.) — Nearly two years after the 12-story Champlain Towers South condominium complex collapsed, causing the deaths of 98 people in Surfside, Florida, plans were submitted Monday that call for another 12-story condominium building to be constructed on the oceanfront property where the catastrophe occurred.

DAMAC International, a company based in United Arab Emirates, said in a news release that the proposed “ultra-luxury boutique oceanfront development” would include 57 condominiums and two pools. The company released renderings of two possible designs for the building.

The Town of Surfside’s Planning Department confirmed to ABC News that the developer’s application was received Monday.

“DAMAC plans to commence construction sometime in 2024,” a spokesperson for the developer told ABC News.

The Surfside Planning Commission would need to approve the plans in order for DAMAC International to be allowed to proceed with the project. Surfside’s municipal government will first review the proposal and will eventually schedule a public hearing, but a meeting date has not yet been set.

“It’s a difficult issue because there’s the emotional aspect to it,” Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger told ABC News. “We can’t deny a plan unless there’s a legal reason.”

Champlain Towers South opened in 1981 just north of Miami Beach and included 136 condominiums. The collapse of roughly half of the building occurred around 1:22 a.m. on June 24, 2021, and caused first responders from around the world to travel to South Florida to assist with the search and rescue efforts.

“While no work of architecture can ever remove the pain of the past, nor should it, a truly ambitious work of architecture can respect such a significant site,” Chris Lepine of Zaha Hadid Architects said in the press release. “It’s a great responsibility to be providing this vision for Surfside.”

Just over a year after the collapse, East Oceanside Development, LLC, a firm associated with DAMAC International, bought the property for $120 million, according to Miami-Dade County property records.

“I think we’d have all liked to see a memorial there and it turned into some kind of park, but that ship sailed a long time ago,” Danzinger said, adding that part of nearby 88th Street is now expected to be converted to a memorial park in at least a year.

The news of the development proposal comes as an exact cause of the collapse has still not been determined.

Investigators from the National Institute of Standards and Technology are expected to provide an update on their research during a meeting on Friday, but according to a NIST spokesperson, their investigation will not be completed until spring of 2024 and the resulting report will not be published until a year after that.

Meanwhile, Surfside officials, survivors and relatives of the victims are preparing to mark two years since the collapse. A torch will be lit in a public remembrance service at a park across the street from the property at 1:22 a.m. on June 24 and the victims’ names will be read after.

“We don’t want to forget,” Danzinger said. “We want to keep their memories alive.”

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