All eyes on cranes during Hurricane Dorian

Three cranes collapsed during Hurricane Irma in South Florida, despite assurances that they could withstand much higher wind speeds

(Credit: Getty Images)

(Credit: Getty Images)

When Hurricane Irma swept through South Florida in 2017, three construction cranes collapsed amid the raging winds, despite assurances that the equipment could withstand wind speeds of over 100 miles per hour.

Now as Hurricane Dorian is strengthening across the Atlantic and is projected to become the largest hurricane to hit Florida’s east coast since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, developers and construction companies are looking to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen again.

During Hurricane Irma, cranes collapsed at Related Group’s luxury condo project Gran Paraiso in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, and at Property Markets Group’s X Miami apartment project in downtown Miami. Another crane collapsed at Related Group’s Auberge Beach Residences & Spa in Fort Lauderdale.

In 2017, all the crane issues came from the same crane model SK-315, according to a report issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The SK-315 model was manufactured by Noell Service.

The model had a design issue with the connection between the beam of the crane and the turntable that allows the crane to operate, according to OSHA. The cranes then collapsed when turbulent winds struck the cranes and caused the beam to separate from the equipment’s turntables and fall over.

But according to a report by Local 10 News in Miami, all SK-315 models were removed from the city and have not been brought back after the collapses, according to the Miami Building Department.

Peter Dyga, the CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida’s East Coast Chapter, said most cranes in Miami can withstand speeds of up to 120 miles per hour and the cranes shouldn’t collapse like last time. He said that cranes will be put into a mode called “weather vane,” which allows them to spin.

“People see them spinning, but that’s what they’re supposed to do. The tension is released by them turning,” Dyga said. “They are designed to be put in that mode and should be fine.”

He added that the cranes are put into the weather vane mode because “there are too many of them to be disassembled for the type of wide event we are looking at.”

Richard Schuerger of John Moriarty & Associates said the construction company has already completed its inspections on the cranes at its projects: 545 Wyn, a mixed-use office development in Wynwood; Elysee, a 57-story tall luxury condo project in the Edgewater neighborhood; and Amli Residential’s apartment development in Midtown Miami.

“The cranes are not coming down,” Schuerger said.

Florida Keys developer sentenced for illegally filling wetlands following Hurricane Irma

Bonefish Holdings ordered to pay $50K fine, restore impacted wetlands, and serve probation

Florida Keys aerial (Credit: iStock)

Florida Keys aerial (Credit: iStock)

A developer in the Florida Keys was sentenced for illegally filling and clearing federally regulated wetlands without a permit in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Bonefish Holdings LLC pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years of probation, and ordered to pay a $50,000 criminal fine and to fully restore the impacted 3.7 acres of wetlands. Bonefish, led by Coral Springs developer Albert Vorstman, estimated the restoration would cost about $189,000, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Vorstman, a urologist, has been trying to develop an oceanfront 8-acre property in Islamorada’s Upper Matecumbe Key since he purchased it in 2007, partnering with the Fort Lauderdale architectural firm EDSA, the Miami Herald reported. The Village of Islamorada repeatedly rejected plans to develop the lot into a 49-room eco-tourism resort.

After Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys in September 2017, destroying homes, resorts and other properties in its path, the developer hired workers to clear the storm debris and fill the site without a permit, violating title 33 of the Clean Water Act, according to the release.

“The defendant’s actions were designed to intentionally take advantage of what it saw as an opportunity to remove significant additional vegetation and the filling of wetlands, in the hope of easing the path for future development of the site,” the release said.

The Bonefish Holdings property, a group of five lots, was overgrown with invasive plants like Australian pine and Brazilian pepper trees, according to the Herald. The U.S. Attorney’s office said that the company received confirmation from the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 2009 and in 2013 that the property included federally protected wetlands, ensuring that the developer was aware that permits would be required in order to fill and clear the site.

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Storm-damaged Ritz-Carlton on South Beach closed indefinitely, laying off staff

The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach before Hurricane Irma hit the hotel on Sept. 10
The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach notified the state government that the hurricane-damaged hotel will lay off 281 employees and remain closed indefinitely for repairs.
The 375-room hotel at 1 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach has been closed since Sept. 8, two days before Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys.
The hotel’s general manager, Sase Gjorsovski, wrote in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed Oct. 23 that the 281 layoffs will affect 14 massage therapists, 59 housekeeping workers and 49 food and beverage servers, among other employees.
The layoffs are effective Dec. 8 and considered permanent, according to Gjorsovski. He told the Sun-Sentinel no reopening date has been set for the hotel.
“The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach is working toward a full recovery and will be welcoming guests as soon as possible,” according to a notice posted Oct. 16 on the hotel’s website.
Some other hotels in South Florida also remain closed due to damage from Hurricane Irma, including the Sheraton Suites and Bahia Cabanas hotels in Fort Lauderdale. [Sun-Sentinel] – Mike Seemuth

Source: The Real Deal Miami