New Info Makes Tragic Condo Collapse Less Surprising. Letter To Residents Noted $15 Million Repair Work That Was Desperately Needed.

People stand near a make-shift memorial outside St. Joseph Catholic Church near the Champlain Towers South residential condo, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. Many people were still unaccounted for after Thursday's fatal collapse. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The Miami-area condo tragedy appears every day now to be less of a surprise, as an April letter to residents included a coming charge for more than $15 million in repair work.

The price for each owner would have varied based on the size of their homes. 

Desperately needed renovation work was identified more than two years ago, and the condo association sent the letter April 9 expressing the level of disrepair.

Jean Wodnicki, the president of the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, said that damage to the garage was “significantly worse” since an inspection about 30 months earlier.

Also part of the letter: an admission that the work “could have been done” earlier. 

Engineer Frank Morabito’s company inspected and reported the damage in 2018 as part of the building’s 40-year recertification. The bill at the time would have been around $12 million but the condo association took its time in planning for the fixes.

And then they hired the same engineer, Morabito Consultants, for the job. 

Wodnicki, who survived the collapse according to a condo association lawyer, included in the letter:

“When you can visually see the concrete spalling (cracking), that means that the rebar holding it together is rusting and deteriorating beneath the surface. 

“The concrete deterioration is accelerating. The roof situation got much worse, so extensive roof repairs had to be incorporated.”

She wrote the association still sought a loan and that the board had only $707,000 in reserves.

Jay Miller, a resident of Champlain Towers South, told USA Today that residents knew about the 2018 report and voted for the repairs.

“It wasn’t like people were ignoring it …” Miller said. “A big, big chunk of that was the structural stuff that needed to be done. I don’t remember anybody saying we shouldn’t do the concrete work. I think everybody agreed on that.”

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