MIAMI – For the first time on Wednesday, survivors of the Surfside condo collapse told the court how they wanted the land to be used.
Several condo owners have come before Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge Michael A. Hanzman to convince him to let a developer build a new building on the site of the South Champlain towers because they want to continue to build. to live.
The co-owners, however, are divided over what to do with the land, which is estimated to be worth $ 100 million.
Some want a memorial on the site to honor the victims.
Others say the two options are not mutually exclusive, that you can have a new condominium and a memorial.
“It’s an opportunity to live in an area like this that doesn’t come around very often and replacing it now for many of these homeowners will be near mission impossible, given the price of homes, especially waterfront properties. sea, ”said Oren Cytrynbaum. , who bought a condo unit at Champlain Towers South years ago because it was spacious and directly overlooked the ocean. “I mean, that was taken away from a lot of people and that’s why a lot of people think they would like to be returned to their homes.”
Another resident, speaking in court via Zoom, had a different opinion.
“It’s a grave. I left that in my mind that night saying it was a burial place, ”she said. “I saw the pancake with my own two eyes. I opened the stairwell door and heard a woman screaming for help that I couldn’t help in the pitch darkness.
[ALSO SEE: READ STORIES ABOUT THE VICTIMS]
On Wednesday evening, the county said 97 dead victims were identified in the June 24 collapse, including 96 victims recovered from the rubble and one victim who died in hospital. Authorities believe there is an as yet unidentified victim.
Victims and families who suffered losses in the tragic 12-story condominium collapse will initially receive a minimum of $ 150 million in compensation, Hanzman said Wednesday.
This sum includes the insurance of the Tours Champlain Sud building and the expected proceeds from the sale of the property.
“The court’s concern has always been the victims here,” the judge said, adding that the group includes visitors and tenants, not just condo owners. “Their rights will be protected.
Right now, the court is considering selling the land so that the money can be used to compensate survivors who lost their homes and family members of victims who were killed or injured.
The goal of Wednesday’s two-hour hearing was for the judge to get an update on how much money is available to pay victims.
Court-appointed receiver Michael Goldberg said the condominium board had about $ 1 million in cash on hand. There are approximately $ 50 million in insurance proceeds and approximately $ 2 million in compensation has already been paid to victims.
“My job and your job is to get these victims everything they are legally entitled to,” Justice Hanzman said. “They own the land, they are legally entitled to its fair market value. Period.”
Sky 10 video taken on Wednesday shows how different the collapse site is now that the rubble has been cleared.
Some of the debris is being kept in a warehouse as evidence for the investigation into how the building collapsed. The rest is stored in a batch so that survivors and families can browse through it at a later date to collect their belongings.
Copyright 2021 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.