A project manager for a Fort Lauderdale demolition company was critically injured Monday during the demolition of the former Marlborough House condominium building in Miami Beach, Miami Beach police said.
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 46-year-old Samuel Landis. Landis was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital and remained in critical condition as of late Monday afternoon.
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.
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," Winmar Construction president Luis Leon said in a statement that referred in any questions about the incident to AlliedBean Demolition.
Video provided by GC Construction shows the former Marlborough House condominium building in Miami Beach collapsing on Monday morning.
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 Association will also be investigating.
Miami Beach building inspectors have confirmed that the adjacent buildings were not impacted by the collapse, the city said in a statement. Air quality inspectors confirmed that any asbestos risks were properly handled before demolition, Beach cops said.
Building permit records online 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.
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A permit corrections report online describes the demolition as "total demolition of multi-family residential structure by conventional methods. No longer using the implosion method."
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 many 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 DC and Miami. Its projects have been inspected eight times by OSHA since 2012 with varying results.
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 DC project. Winmar settled 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 Drive in Deerfield Beach. The Fort Lauderdale-based company was incorporated in 2012 by Liliana Alavarez and Kevin Bean, who remain the company's two directors according to Sunbiz.com.
AlliedBean's website says, "Our number one priority is our commitment to protect the life and property on every AlliedBean project."
Miami Herald staff writer Joey Flechas contributed to this report