When Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier saw the security footage of Champlain Towers South collapsing in the Miami-area town of Surfside, he was shocked.
“Immediately I thought about the people in that building and just how horrible the situation must have been,” he said. “My second reaction was, ‘Gee, could that happen here?'”
In fact, it did almost happen in Sarasota.
In July 2010, Dolphin Tower, at 101 S. Gulfstream Ave., was evacuated by order of city officials because of deterioration. It would take five years before residents could move back into the property as a reported $11 million rehabilitation needed to shore up structural problems.
Dolphin Tower was subsequently rebranded as The 101 Condominium in 2019.
“Yes,” John Bonacci, an engineer at Sarasota’s Karins Engineering previously told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, describing the situation: “I’d say yes, there was grave danger. It was luck that it didn’t come all the way down. Getting shoring in there quickly was instrumental in preventing it from collapsing.”
Most municipalities in Florida do not require a recertification of commercial buildings. In fact, only Miami-Dade and Broward counties require local building officials to recertify the structural integrity of buildings. And there, it happens only after a building reaches 40 years old.
In Sarasota and Manatee counties there is no requirement that local officials reevaluate the structural integrity of a building at any time after it receives…