BOCA RATON — Since the
Surfside condo collapse in June, the CBS12 News I Team has
been following efforts to protect people living in
high-rises and how strict new inspections- like those now on
the books in Boca Raton - could change life in South Florida
Boca was first, but
other towns, cities and counties are working on their own
new safety rules, rules that have management companies,
condo boards and residents butting heads over what needs to
be done and how much it might cost.
Residents on a fixed or limited income are terrified they
might lose their homes.
“We all want a beautiful place in which to live, but we need
to prioritize, and what Surfside taught us was, engineering
and repairs first, aesthetics second,” Fred Hadley told the
Hadley lives in Century Village, west of Boca Raton.
Thirteen years ago,
when he moved in, Hadley was charmed by community living,
the pools, and tennis courts.
He still loves those amenities, but right now he’s mad,
because he says condo management is not preparing for the
detailed safety inspections – and likely mandatory repairs –
which are certainly coming in the wake of the tragedy in
For instance, Fred points to the flower beds in front of his
building on Cornwall Drive.
They’re beautiful, he admits, but they cost thousands of
dollars a year to keep up.
Last month, Hadley suggested the condo board use that money
to hire an expert to assess whether their cash reserves are
sufficient to pay for repairs that might be needed.
“And it was shot down. The President of our Association
turned to the Community’s Manager and said, ‘Do we need to
do this? How are our reserves?’ And the community
association manager, who is not a licensed reserve
specialist said, ‘The reserves inside Century Village are in
fine shape,’ and he’s not qualified to make that
determination and nor am I, nor is the board of directors,
nor is the management company who works for us, only a
person licensed by the State of Florida can say for sure.”
Fred knows Palm Beach County officials are in talks to
require re-inspections every 10 years for buildings built
before 1982, like many in Century Village.
If inspectors find problems that need to be fixed right
away, that means money in a hurry.
“The people at Champlain Towers South were hit with a 38
thousand per unit- special assessment- which is a serious
impact for people living in a ritzy oceanfront property, it
would be a disaster here.” Hadley said.
A disaster for folks like Joan Johnson.
“And what amount are they going to assess us for?” Johnson
Joan lives in one of the other 5,700 units in Century
Many of those that live here, like Joan, are retired and
have to be careful with their finances.
A special assessment could easily climb into the thousands
and, if it does, Joan says she’d have to leave the condo
she’s called home for 13 years.
“Well I guess I’ll be moving. That’s a lot of money,”
Joan pays about $600 a month in condo fees. Some of that
goes to the recreational facilities, some to building
After Surfside, Joan wants to know exactly what goes where
and she says for a few months, the recreational budget could
go on the back burner.
“Only to fix what’s absolutely necessary, I mean these
buildings are 40 years old," Johnson said.
Within Century Village, there are 16 associations among the
more than 100 buildings.
Fred and Joan’s association isn’t doing a reserve study, but
others in the community are. And some might impose special
assessments, some might not.
“Some people will say, if they’re doing it, why aren’t we?”
The A word, ‘assessment’ is always a dirty word in condos
and co-ops because it seems to point to poor planning,
sweeping things under the rug, putting off til tomorrow what
you should have done today,” Hadley said.
The good news is, Century Village isn’t anywhere near the
ocean, so the buildings here likely won’t have the same
degree of corrosion as the condo in Surfside. But that
doesn’t mean there won’t be problems that need fixing after
40 plus years.
Last month in Miami, an 8 story building was deemed unsafe
and had to be evacuated. It’s near the Miami airport- more
than 6 miles from the ocean.
Fred tells the I-Team, some associations in Century Village
have ordered field survey reports. The same kind of detailed
engineering inspection Champlain Towers South had done in
That doomed building ultimately delayed the recommendations
for repairs in that report- they thought there was more
time, but Fred says that information by itself is only one
piece of the puzzle.
“We don’t know that we have the funds unless we hire a
licensed reserve specialist,” Hadley said.
And Fred says he and his neighbors deserve to know what’s
coming, so they can prepare to pony up the money or find
somewhere new to live.