The fight over whether the site of June's deadly Florida condominium collapse should be sold for development or turned into a memorial boiled over at a court hearing Thursday, with some victims' relatives begging for time to find a buyer who won't put a new luxury high-rise there.
In this Friday, June 25, 2021, file photo, rescue workers work in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, Fla. The fight over whether the site of June's deadly Florida condominium collapse should be sold for development or turned into a memorial boiled over during an emotional court hearing Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, with some victims' relatives begging for time to find a buyer who won't put a new luxury high-rise there.
He said possible sales
and land swaps with government entities and others have been
explored, but none have panned out and he doesn't expect any
“I would have loved to have seen a memorial at this site while at the same time we provided fair market value for the victims,” he said. “It is time to realize that land is going to be sold.”
He said he understands emotions are high. But he added those relatives and others who have called the land's potential buyers “greedy” and vowed to challenge development will lower the bids and financially harm themselves and others. He wants that stopped.
“It is one thing to make an effort to get a memorial and to explore those avenues, and it is another thing to go a step further ... and make statements that this property is not buildable, that the developers are vultures and that lawyers are colluding with them to steal the money from the victims,” Hanzman said. “I know that is going to devalue the asset.”
Other families said during the hearing that they support the property's sale and want the memorial built elsewhere. If the property is developed, there are proposals to build the memorial at a nearby park or by converting a side street adjoining the site.
Elena Pazos lost her 55-year-old husband, Miguel Pazos, her 23-year-old daughter Michelle Pazos and her daughter's best friend, Anastasia Gromova, 24, in the collapse. She said she never wants to go onto the site because that will only reopen her wounds.
“Every time we would come there, we would remember how they died," Pazos said. Instead, she wants the memorial nearby but private. “I want to concentrate on how they lived, how they were, where they were born, where they grew up, where they fell in love, where they made friends.”