Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald
By David J. Neal, Kyra Gurney And Charles Rabin
Published July 26, 2018
A project manager for a Fort Lauderdale demolition company was critically
injured Monday as the demolition of the former Marlborough House condominium
building in Miami Beach went wrong in ways that have not been publicly
The entire building collapsed in a matter of seconds,
sending debris flying as the area was enveloped in clouds of dust. The same
debris that spread across Collins Avenue and shut down a main north-south
artery through Miami Beach until Monday afternoon also smashed into Samuel
Landis. Landis, 46, was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital and remained in
critical condition as of late Monday afternoon.
Landis has started and operated several construction related businesses in
Florida and Illinois over the last 20 years, including Omega Demolition from
2003 to 2013.
Piles of rubble littered the site. Rescue workers from the Miami Beach,
Miami and Miami-Dade fire departments conducted a search and rescue
operation, but found no other victims.
“All of the construction workers were accounted for and as a precaution they
deployed search and rescue dogs and cadaver dogs,” said Mayor Dan Gelber.
Brazilian developer Jose Isaac Peres bought the 13-floor, 1963 building at
5775 Collins Ave. and plans to replace it with a 19-story tower on the
beachfront property. Thus, Monday’s demolition.
The former Marlborough House condominium building in
Miami Beach collapsed Monday morning, injuring a project manager who
was struck by debris, according to Miami Beach police.
As for what went wrong, Multiplan Real Estate Asset
Management, Peres’ development company, referred questions to contractor
Winmar Construction, Inc. In a statement, Winmar described the incident as a
“construction accident” that occurred “during the planned, approved and
permitted demolition” conducted by subcontractor AlliedBean Demolition.
“We are working closely with City officials and industry agencies to
understand what happened during Allied’s demolition of the structure,” Luis
Leon, president of Winmar Construction, said in a statement that referred
any questions about the incident to AlliedBean Demolition.
AlliedBean refused to make anyone available to answer questions about how
its project manager wound up in critical condition.
The Miami Beach Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation
into the incident while the Occupational Health and Safety Administration
will also be investigating.
Miami Beach building inspectors have determined that the adjacent buildings
were not impacted by the collapse, the city said in a statement. Air quality
inspectors visited the site and confirmed that any asbestos risks were
properly handled before demolition, Beach police said.
Building permit records show that the owner applied for an implosion permit
in August 2017. That permit was denied because Miami Beach does not allow
implosions, said Ana Salgueiro, the city’s building director. Then the owner
applied for a regular demolition permit, which was issued on April 18, 2018.
A permit corrections report online describes the demolition as “total
demolition of multi-family residential structure by conventional methods.”
Once a demolition permit is granted, construction crews can demolish the
building whenever they’re prepared to do so without notifying the building
department, Salgueiro said. In a letter sent to residents in a nearby
building on July 20, the owner of the site said that demolition of “certain
interior components” of the Marlborough House building had already been
completed and that demolition of the main structure and remaining components
could begin as soon as 8 a.m. on Monday, July 23.
“Demolition will continue to occur through conventional methods pursuant to
the demolition permit issued by the City of Miami Beach,” Derrick Chin, the
manager for property owner Miami Beach Associates LLC, said in the letter.
“The work may take a couple of weeks to complete, and a portion of the
building may remain until the work is completed.”
Winmar describes itself as a “full service construction management company
and general contractor partner” and works mainly in Washington, D.C. and
Miami. Its projects have been inspected eight times by OSHA since 2012 with
OSHA found no violations on the lone Miami project inspection, work on the
Shelborne South Beach in 2014. But on Winmar’s most recent project
inspection, in 2017, OSHA found three serious violations involving liquid
petroleum and stairways and fined the company $13,942 on a Washington, D.C.
project. Winmar negotiated the fine down to $9,062.
AlliedBean’s only OSHA inspection turned up no violations during a 2015
demolition of the old Crystal Lake Golf and Country Club clubhouse at 3800
Crystal Lake Dr. in Deerfield Beach. The Fort Lauderdale-based company was
incorporated in 2012 by Liliana Alvarez and Kevin Bean, who remain the
company’s two directors, according to business records.
AlliedBean’s website says, “Our number one priority is our commitment to
protect the life and property on every AlliedBean project.”
Jason Kellogg, a partner at the law firm Levine Kellogg Lehman Schneider &
Grossman, said the accident could delay the construction project for months
as experts try to determine what went wrong. (Kellogg does not represent any
of the companies involved in the incident and spoke based on his expertise
in construction litigation.)
“The engineers will come in now and try to analyze what happened, the
forensic engineers, and figure out why it failed the way it did,” he said.
“Obviously they’ll clean up the street, but they’re going to leave
everything on the site to see how it fell.”
He said that in a densely populated area with numerous ongoing construction
projects like Miami Beach, the incident should be a “safety wake-up call.”