Eventual Sale of Champlain Towers South Site to Benefit Surfside Disaster Victims

The eventual sale of the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida, will benefit the victims that survived the disaster.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman approved the property's sale on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. Court records show that the property could be worth $100 million to $110 million.

Attorney Michael Goldberg, who was chosen to handle financial decision-making related to the building, said a buyer will not be prevented from turning at least a part of the property into a memorial for the victims.

"He wants us to start exploring a potential sale," Goldberg said, speaking of Hanzman, in an email to the AP. "He did say he wants the land to be sold and the proceeds to go directly to the victims as soon as possible."

Some survivors want a condominium to be rebuilt so they can have a home to return to. The building's collapse left at least 95 people dead, and the cause remains unknown.

Surfside Victims Memorial
The eventual sale of the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, Florida, will benefit the victims who survived. Above, a poster for the Guara family of four, who all died in the collapse, hangs at a memorial site. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

At a hearing, Hanzman ordered that the process begin to sell the site of Champlain Towers South. Goldberg, the court-appointed receiver, said the judge wants the sale to move quickly.

Some people have said at least a portion of the site should be turned into a memorial.

Hanzman's ruling came as part of a series of lawsuits filed in the wake of the June 24 collapse. A cause has not yet been pinpointed, although there were several previous warnings of major structural damage at the 40-year-old building.

The judge put the lawsuits on a fast track and authorized Goldberg to begin disbursing Champlain Towers insurance money to the victims and families.

The judge also approved returning $2.4 million in deposits that some Champlain condo owners had already made toward an assessment to pay for $15 million in planned major repairs.

In nearby Miami Beach, residents of an 82-year-old, two-story apartment building were ordered to evacuate because of concrete deterioration. The city ordered the evacuation of Devon Apartments on Monday and is giving residents until next Monday to leave the building, city spokeswoman Melissa Berthier said in an email Wednesday.

The apartment building is about 2 miles from Champlain Towers South.

After the collapse, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava ordered an audit of all buildings over 40 years old. A condominium in nearby North Miami Beach also was ordered evacuated over safety concerns shortly after that audit started.

During a news conference Tuesday, Levine Cava said the number of people considered missing in the collapse has dwindled as authorities work to identify everyone connected to the building. The mayor said 14 people remain unaccounted for, which includes 10 victims whose bodies have been recovered but not yet identified—leaving potentially four more victims to be found.

"It's a scientific, methodical process to identify human remains. As we've said, this work is becoming more difficult with the passage of time," Levine Cava said, adding that it is "truly a fluid situation."

The collapse left officials around the county grappling with concerns about older residential buildings.

Manny Vadillo, an attorney who represents the owners of the Devon Apartments, told WTVJ that they have worked "diligently" with the city since deciding in May to demolish the building by December.

He said they have started to "vacate the building in an orderly fashion," adding that 14 people remained inside. He said the owners are helping residents move.

"My clients are extremely sensitive to safety and, in fact, visited the property several times since last week to speak with tenants when communications started with the city to ensure tenants were not caught by surprise," Vadillo said. "Some tenants have been there many years."

Resident Esmart Romero told WSVN that he was not surprised the city deemed the building unsafe.

"If you look at the condition of this apartment, it's not good," Romero said. "You get what you pay for."

Rubble of Surfside Condo
Crews work in the rubble of the demolished Champlain Towers South building on Monday in Surfside, Florida. Rebecca Blackwell/AP Photo