A letter sent since last April by the president of the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, Jean Wodnicki, warned that the damage in the parking area located in the basement of the building had “significantly worsened” since an inspection that had been made about two and a half years earlier.
The letter also referred to the deterioration of the building’s concrete, which was “accelerating.”
“We have argued, debated and argued for years, and will continue to do so for years to come as different elements come into play,” the letter said.
In the seven-page text, Wodnicki detailed which were the most important repairs that had to be carried out in the building, after in 2018, after hiring the engineering firm Morabito Consultants to carry out an inspection in the building, the result found that there was a “major error” in the design of the building’s concrete columns, as they had collapse in the basement area where the parking lot is located, under the structure.
For this reason, he warned that if this problem is not solved in the “near future, the extent of concrete deterioration will expand exponentially.”
Thirty months after this inspection, Wodnicki said in his letter that “in fact, the observable damage, in the parking lot, has significantly worsened” since the first inspection.
“When you can see the cracked concrete with the naked eye, that means that the reinforcing bar that holds it together is rusting and deteriorating below the surface,” warned Wodnicki.
The condo’s letter suggested that the millions of dollars needed for the repairs could have been a source of frustration among residents.
Some neighbors assured local media such as USA Today, having been aware of the results of the 2018 inspections. They even held votes and assemblies to discuss the urgency regarding repairs to the “significant structural damage” that affected the building since then. . However, when they discussed the costs of the arrangements, which for that year were around seven million dollars, there were differences and conflicts that did not allow an agreement to be reached.
Subsequently, a new board took office that tried to reach a consensus with all points of view to reach a solution, but they lost a lot of time, about a year, trying to deal with the damages indicated in the report.
“They had been talking about it for quite some time,” said Marta Castro, a resident of the east tower of the Champlain Tower, who says she often chatted with residents of the collapsed building. “The few I spoke to were concerned about the financial aspects.”
Castro, who is a former member of the homeowners association board at Champlain Tower East, said the south tower always looked messy, with cracks in the concrete that were clearly visible, as well as being noted for paint maintenance. She said she was friends with several people in the collapsed tower who are missing and probably dead, she lamented.
“Because much of the concrete / waterproofing work required is underground, we must raise nearly the entire ground level of the lot to access the areas requiring repair,” Wodnicki wrote in his letter dated April 9.
He cautioned that “when performing any concrete restoration work, it is impossible to know the extent of damage to the underlying rebar until the concrete breaks open.”
“Often the damage is more extensive than can be determined by inspecting the surface,” he added.
Wodnicki concluded with a note in which he said he hoped the letter would help residents better understand why an upcoming evaluation would be so expensive, and said some residents had believed that “we are evaluating too much.”
“Your Board of Directors is working very hard to bring this project to fruition,” he said, adding that they had been consulting with various job-related professionals such as engineers, accountants and lawyers.
“We have already covered a lot of ground to get the project off the ground … We have discussed, debated and argued for years, and will continue to do so for years to come as different elements come into play.”
75 days later, the building collapsed.