It’s time to go. Everyone who lives at the Regent Palace condominium saw the destruction at Champlain Towers, less than six blocks away, and they don’t need to be forced out. They’re leaving or they’ve already left, voluntarily.
“Honestly, you know, the building was analyzed and deemed unsafe, so we’re not gonna take any risk, you know a couple of blocks down, a building actually collapsed so we don’t want anything tragic to happen,” said Theo Magnat, a Regent Palace resident, as he was moving out Tuesday.
The building was constructed 70 years ago on the beach at 93rd and Collins. The residents hired their own engineering firm to inspect the property, before the Champlain Towers collapse, and the report came back a couple of weeks ago showing severe issues.
The Town of Surfside’s building department sent the Regent Palace condominium association a letter saying immediate action was needed. In boldface font, the email said in part, “Place shoring around all damaged columns, do not wait for building permits to do so, it is imperative that you act immediately without delay.”
“I believe we are doing what is necessary to protect people and property,” said Joerg Dokondke, the condominium association’s president.
He says they started installing the extra shoring supports even before the town ordered them, and said it was a direct result of the Champlain Towers calamity. A wake-up call to action.
“Or to consider warnings that at one point people would not recognize as warnings, consider them more serious, that’s what we do here,” Dokondke said.
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The head building official for the Town of Surfside told me what they’re doing at Regent Palace is exactly what every condominium should be doing, and that is, being proactive.
“So as you can imagine, with an older building there’s always something, cracks and this and that,” Dokondke said.
“There were probably half a dozen places where I saw cracks that I’d want to look at a little bit more,” said Allyn Kilsheimer, a structural engineer who’s been hired by the town to investigate the Champlain Towers failure.
Kilsheimer took a quick look at Regent Palace but says he did not see enough to determine if it’s safe or not. He did praise the residents there for doing what he says everyone should do.
“You know, if you see something that worries you in a building you ought to say something,” Kilsheimer said.
Dokondke said it’s likely the property will be sold to a developer who will demolish Regent Palace and build something new in its place.