SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP/WSVN) — A billionaire developer from Dubai is set to purchase the site of a South Florida condominium that collapsed last June, killing 98 people, for $120 million after no other bids were submitted by the Friday evening deadline for next week’s auction.
Michael Fay, of Avison Young, said hundreds of potential buyers had shown interest in the property, but none were ultimately prepared to match the strong initial bid of Hussain Sajwani, of DAMAC Properties. Avison Young is the commercial real estate firm that was appointed to market the land as part of a class-action lawsuit.
The auction for the 1.8-acre (0.72-hectare) parcel in Surfside was scheduled for Tuesday. Earlier this month, families of the victims reached a $997 million settlement with local officials, the developers of an adjacent building and others whom they hold responsible for the collapse of the 40-year-old, 12-story beachside building during the early hours of June 24.
The victims’ families will soon be honoring the one-year anniversary of the partial collapse at 8777 Collins Avenue.
Among the lives lost was 40-year-old Cassondra Stratton. Her sister, Ashley Dean spoke to 7News on Friday evening via Zoom.
“It’s tragic that she had to lose her life so young, so healthy, so beautiful,” said Dean. “She was just a beautiful girl, and she’s really going to be missed.”
Dean said she had a feeling the property would be sold when no other bids were submitted.
“It made me feel a little sick to my stomach, because I know that the property is going to belong to someone else,” she said.
7News has learned there may be plans to build high-end condos at the site.
“For me, I just kind of wish that us families could have submitted a bid, and us families could have purchased the property,” said Dean. “We could have had it with us for the remembrance of our 98.”
Most of the Champlain Towers South collapsed suddenly on June 24 about 1:20 a.m. as most of its residents slept. Only three people survived the initial collapse. No other survivors were found despite the around-the-clock efforts of rescuers who dug through a 40-foot (12-meter) pile of rubble for two weeks. Another three dozen people were in the portion of the building that remained standing.
The condominium’s residents and visitors formed a melting pot: Orthodox Jews, Latin Americans, Israelis, Europeans and snowbirds from the Northeast.
Dean said she wished the site could have been turned into a memorial.
“It feels like the blood of our family is in the soil, and it just runs deep, and the pain runs deep,” she said, “and that land is sacred to us, and we just would have rather it be with us.”
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is investigating the cause of the collapse, a process that is expected to take years.
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