Developers and city officials quashed the family’s expectations during a meeting Monday to discuss a memorial for the 98 people who died last year in a condominium building collapse on a Florida beach.
Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger received representatives from DAMAC Properties and people whose loved ones were killed in the fall of Champlain Towers South on June 24, 2021.
“We all would love to build something, a park or something,” Danzinger said of the site. “But by order of the judge, he was sold. Now it’s private property.”
Dubai-based DAMAC acquired the 1.8-acre (1 ha) waterfront property earlier this year for $120 million. It is not yet clear what structure will be built on the site, but DAMAC’s business is focused on high-end residential, commercial and leisure properties.
The city of Surfside has already set aside a site for a memorial near the site of the collapse, but family members are hoping to erect some kind of memorial at the site.
Danzinger suggested that the city change some of the easements to place the memorial on the edge of the lot.
Martin Langesfeld, who lost his sister and son-in-law in the collapse, said he would like the memorial to mark the spot where the victims actually died.
“We really want to work in the area where there was most of the people and most of the blood,” Langesfeld said.
The problem for the developers is that most of the people died on the part of the site under construction.
“When you start asking for 50 feet or 70 feet inland because that’s where the building was, it becomes very difficult for us to look at that and say we can give up a third or half of the area. development,” said DAMAC spokesman Jeff Rossley.
In June, the Miami-Dade County District Judge approved a settlement for victims and property owners totaling $1.1 billion, including the sale of the site. Money for the settlement is also coming from dozens of other sources, including insurance companies, engineering firms and a luxury condominium building whose recent construction is suspected of contributing to the structural damage. Neither side pleads guilty.
The final conclusion about the cause of the collapse will probably be made years later. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is overseeing the investigation.
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