Surfside Contemplates Luxury Condo Proposal for Site of Champlain Towers South Tragedy

Published Date: June 18, 2023

In a significant development that offers both clarity and mixed emotions, plans for a luxury high-rise have been submitted to Surfside for the site of the tragic Champlain Towers South condominium collapse, which occurred almost two years ago. Dubai-based developer Damac International has presented two design options for a 12-story condominium building at 8777 Collins Ave. The proposed development envisions 57 residences ranging from 4,000 to 9,000 square feet, set on a 1.8-acre beachfront lot. The condominium complex is expected to encompass amenities like a business center, community events space, an indoor pool, and a rooftop pool with cabanas.

The two design options showcase subtle variations, with one featuring a more boxed-in structure and the other adopting a “wedding cake” design, characterized by wider sides and a larger ground floor. While the aesthetics may differ, the number of residences, building height, and beach proximity remain consistent across both designs. Although precise price tags are yet to be established, industry experts anticipate that each residence would command well over $1 million.

Zaha Hadid Architects, the renowned architectural firm associated with the late Pritzker-prize winning architect Zaha Hadid, has conceptualized this new Surfside real estate project. Drawing inspiration from the local beaches, the motion of waves, and the warm hues of sand during sunrise and sunset, the firm has aimed to create a development that resonates with the site’s significance.

The developer, Damac International, has chosen not to comment on the new condo proposal. Similarly, Surfside’s mayor and town manager have refrained from offering statements regarding this development.

Damac International emerged as the sole bidder for the property, securing it for $120 million last summer. The site was previously occupied by the 12-story Champlain Towers South, which stood since the early 1980s before tragically collapsing on June 24, 2021, claiming the lives of 98 individuals. The incident sparked a thorough investigation that identified signs of structural deterioration and engineering flaws during the building’s construction. However, a definitive report explaining the exact cause of the collapse is yet to be released.

The Surfside community, tightly knit by the tragedy, has seen subsequent condominium reforms at both local and state levels. While efforts to establish a memorial for the victims have faced challenges, recent discussions during a town commission meeting hinted at dedicating a portion of 88th Street to a memorial. Nonetheless, some family members of the victims have voiced their preference for a memorial on the site of the condo collapse itself, which Damac now aims to redevelop.

The fate of Damac’s plans lies in the hands of the commission. If approved, construction is unlikely to commence before the end of the year or early 2024.

Real estate analyst Ana Bozovic, founder of Analytics Miami and Miami Dealsheet, suggests that the future of Damac International’s condo project remains uncertain. Those directly impacted by the tragedy are unlikely to invest in the new building, as well as potential buyers seeking quick condo resales for profit. However, foreign buyers and individuals with long-term ownership aspirations may find the waterfront condo project appealing.

Despite a mild sales slowdown, luxury condo living in South Florida remains sought after, fueled by affluent newcomers, particularly from the Northeast. Bozovic speculates that over time, the impact of the tragedy may wane for those without a personal attachment to the incident, potentially influencing future purchasing decisions.

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Original Article By Rebecca San Juan Miami Herald

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