Surfside Community Rejects Damac’s Controversial Proposal for Champlain Towers South Collapse SiteJuly 28, 2023
A proposal by Damac Properties to modify development regulations for their project in Surfside faced significant opposition from the community. The controversial ordinance was seen as providing special treatment to the Dubai-based developer, enabling them to maximize profits from their proposed condominium building.
During a special meeting, commissioners voted 3-2 against the ordinance in a heated and contentious session, with elected officials speaking over each other. The proposal aimed to alter the south setback requirement for Damac’s project, which would have allowed space for a planned memorial to extend partially onto the collapse site at 8777 Collins Avenue.
The Surfside community has been grappling with the aftermath of the tragic collapse of Champlain Towers South, and many victims’ families advocated for the memorial to be on the actual site of the tragedy. Under the rejected ordinance, the monument would still have been on 88th Street. Still, it could extend a few feet onto the collapse site.
Opponents argued that the ordinance would have permitted Damac to build a straight building, potentially resulting in more extensive and expensive units on the upper floors. The rejected proposal faced scrutiny for its perceived favoritism towards the developer and a lack of transparency in its consideration.
The public comment period also saw contentious moments, with some residents expressing criticism of the mayor’s alleged off-the-books meeting with Damac in Dubai. The developer, however, has decided to move forward with their original wedding cake-designed project after the ordinance’s failure.
The proposal will now go before the town’s planning and zoning board in August, with final approval potentially scheduled for September. Some commissioners may attempt to revisit the ordinance during the August 8 commission meeting. Still, time constraints may limit their ability to do so.
Former Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett was escorted out of the meeting by police officers after expressing his opposition to the proposal directly to one of the commissioners. One year after the tragedy, Damac acquired the site in June 2022 for $120 million.