New Surfside Proposal Could See Community Center, Victim Memorial at Collapse Site

A new proposal for the deadly Surfside condo collapse in Florida could see a community center and a memorial for the victims built on the site of the building collapse, the Associated Press reported.

The proposal offers for a new Surfside community center containing a Champlain memorial to be built on the collapse site, and the land where the 10-year-old community center currently sits would be sold instead to provide compensation for survivors and family members of the victims.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman ordered for the land swap proposal to be examined for financial viability on Wednesday. Hanzman, who is overseeing lawsuits filed in the collapse aftermath, has previously voiced concerns that there won't be enough money to fully compensate all victims.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Surfside Memorial
A proposed land swap could see a new community center and memorial honoring the victims of Surfside at the site of the building's collapse. A victim's relative places flowers at the makeshift memorial where the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South building stood in Surfside, Florida on August 24. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Many survivors and victim family members of the Champlain Towers South collapse oppose a memorial at a nearby Miami Beach park. And many are uneasy with replacement of that doomed building with a luxury structure on what they regard as sacred ground.

"We think it's kind of a burial site," said Carlos Wainberg, who lost several family members in the June 24 disaster in Surfside, Florida, and favors the land swap idea.

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the 12-story building to collapse, killing 98 people.

Hanzman told a court-appointed receiver to investigate the proposed swap.

"It is something that is going to be looked at," Judge Hanzman said at a status hearing. "There will never be enough to fully compensate everyone."

A proposal to purchase the existing Champlain site for about $120 million is still being negotiated, with other bids expected. A complicating factor is the potential the town of Surfside will enact a zoning change that could reduce the property's value.

"The right thing is to add as much value to the property as possible," said Oren Cytrynbaum, a former Champlain resident and attorney who informally represents many victims. "Lives have been lost. Lives have been displaced or ruined."

Surfside officials said a September 9 workshop is scheduled on the zoning issue but no vote by the town council has been set. The zoning question has to do with how much density—in other words, potential condo units—would be permitted in a new building.

Hanzman has expressed dismay previously that Surfside would continue to pursue a zoning change affecting the Champlain site's value.

"There's no deal until and unless it is approved by this court," the judge said.

Another hearing is set for next Wednesday.

Champlain Towers South
A judge has ordered the examination of a proposed land swap to allow for an on-site memorial to the victims of the Florida beachfront condominium collapse. In this June 30 file photo, search and rescue personnel work atop the rubble at the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida. Lynne Sladky/AP Photo