ABOVE: Frustrated residents at Horizon East did not have access to the swimming pool as they waited for repairs to be completed. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star RIGHT: Photos from a report show erosion under the pool deck and repair efforts to correct the damage.
By Joe Capozzi
South Palm Beach has settled a code enforcement case with two neighboring oceanfront condominiums where erosion to an adjoining sea wall led town officials to cite the sea wall as an “unsafe structure.”
The sea wall breaches, initially discovered in November 2020 and brought to the town’s attention eight months later, have been repaired.
The two nine-story condominiums, Horizon East and Mayfair House, agreed to a reduction in the original fines, which would have been $32,250 each. Instead, each condo will pay a $5,000 fine and $1,000 for administrative costs, under an agreement approved Jan. 26 by special magistrate Myrnabelle Roche.
Attorneys for the two condos offered praise for Pompano Beach-based ACP Construction for finally completing repairs that had faced a host of delays.
Those delays included initial bickering between the two condos after the erosion was first discovered, previous contractors backing out, inclement weather, regulatory red tape at the state Department of Environmental Protection and the pandemic, town records show.
Inclement weather from Hurricane Eta in November 2020, followed by king tides, led to erosion and the formation of a small sinkhole in a section of the wall at the north end of Mayfair House, a condo built in 1974, and the south end of Horizon East, built in 1973, records show.
The initial breach that led to the sinkhole “appears” to have originated “from deficient sheet piling system and concrete cap” on the Horizon East side, a private engineering firm hired by Mayfair House wrote Nov. 20, 2020.
Although Mayfair made temporary repairs to the wall under the northeast side of its building, the engineering firm wrote in a report on July 1, 2021, that “it was still essential that Horizon East take steps to correct the potential unsafe condition” on Horizon East’s property, said Mayfair House attorney Louis Silber.
“Without repairing this sea wall, this condition could lead to the eventual development of an imminent hazard to the north side of Mayfair’s oceanside building,” Silber wrote in a Jan. 20 letter to town officials summarizing the history of the erosion problem.
The Mayfair House engineer’s July 1 report, shared with town officials, was written just one week after the Champlain Towers collapse that killed 98 people in Surfside. On July 16, the town cited both condos for an “unsafe structure” related to the adjoining sea wall.
More than $80,000 in repairs were finally completed in mid-January and signed off on by town officials, but not before Horizon East board members complained about publicity over the erosion problems.
“The breach is fixed. There is nothing in danger here,’’ condo board member Steve Karp said in an interview before the magistrate’s hearing. “The building was never going to collapse. It’s in good shape. This is no Surfside.’’
The town still has an outstanding code enforcement case related to sea wall erosion against another condominium, La Pensee. On Dec. 22, a special magistrate agreed with the town code officer’s determination that the sea wall erosion violated the town code as “an unsafe structure.’’
La Pensee has a March 1 deadline to complete the repairs.