MIAMI (CBSMiami) – North Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Rand announced an investigation has been launched at the still-evacuated Crestview Towers.
It was another disappointing development for beleaguered residents of the 10-story, 156-unit building at 2025 N.E. 164th St.READ MORE: Royal Caribbean Expands COVID Testing Requirements
It is not known when they will be able to live there again.
Resident Carlos Calle showed CBS4 iPhone video of the evacuation and said, “I am disappointed about not being able to go back to my home. All my personal belonging are there and I love this place.”
Resident Nori Morales, who lives on the 10th floor, said, “Right now, I am going through so much and it’s so hard.”
Both Morales and Calle are now living with friends.
About 300 residents were evacuated last Friday and the building was closed after the Condominium Association Board submitted a 40-year recertification report dated January 11th in which an engineer said it was structurally and electrically unsafe for occupancy.
Chief Rand told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that he was responding to email messages and complaints “that there’s a possible misappropriation of funds by this association and associations in the past. I am not saying it is proven but just that there’s a possibility.”
Rand could not say how much money was involved but he said, “As the police chief, I have launched an investigation to listen to the residents of this condominium. I can tell you we are taking this very seriously. We are going to get to the bottom of this and get residents the answers they deserve.
He said his department will subpoena records and is working with the State Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
CBS4 reached out to an attorney for the Condominium Association Board but did not hear from the attorney.
On Tuesday, the board submitted a new report on electrical and structural repairs. The report also included new photos showing corrosion and columns, slabs, joints, balconies, and the roof needing concrete restoration.
The report also said, “We conclude that the damage to structural members has not affected the structural integrity of the building. We certify that the building is structurally safe for continued occupancy while emergency concrete repairs are performed.”
But City Manager Arthur H. Sorey said the city rejected that report because documents did not comply with the 40-year recertification process and did not address problems.
Sorey said, “The city rejected those reports because they did not comply with the recertification process. More importantly, they did not address problems raised in the condo’s 40-year recertification.”
“I can’t stress enough how this is a very serious situation and we have a legal and moral obligation to make sure that these homes and this building is safe,” said Sorey.READ MORE: Florida Records Highest One-Day Total Of COVID Cases With 21,000
“In addition in April Miami-Dade Fire Rescue conducted a re-inspection of the building to assess fire safety and cited the building for 18 violations including inadequate emergency lighting, lack of emergency generators and inadequate fire equipment and more and the violations are still pending,” he said.
Other issues reportedly involved fire pumps and hoses and exits and the sprinkler system.
Documents show just over $500,000 in fines are pending.
Residents will be able to return to the building for a brief time to collect their valuables and medicine.
The city says the building will have to submit a new 40-year certification report that addresses all structural and electrical problems.
Ron Book, the Chairman of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, said his organization had assisted 55 people and their six dogs and three cats. Among those evacuated are 12 children.
Book said, “We recognize that all of these families have long-term housing needs in our community.”
Book also had one compelling story.
“We had one gentleman who moved here from Denver three weeks ago with his child to take a job at Delta Airlines,” said Book. “He put up his life savings to live here at the building and paid 1st month, last month, and a month’s security. There is no telling if that gentleman will ever recover those monies.”
Book said, “I can assure you that we are not going to abandon the City of North Miami Beach and the people who have been put out of the building and now there is a potential threat to their health safety, and welfare.”
Book said anyone who needed help from the Homeless Trust should call his office at (305) 375-1490. “They can also call my personal cell phone at (305) 510-2000.”
Chief Rand said on Friday Crestview Towers residents will have 15 minutes to go into the building and their apartments to get medicine and valuables.
“It will be 15 minutes to get in and out,” said Rand. “Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.”
Residents will be escorted by police.
Nori Morales said she will be there.MORE NEWS: Activists Hold 'Down With The Chains' Rally At Bayfront Park Saturday
“In those 15 minutes, I am going to turn in to Wonder Woman and I am going to do my best. I am going to get stuff that is very important to me,” she said.