An oceanfront park is emerging as the leading site for a memorial to the victims of the deadly condominium building collapse in Florida, a judge says.
The city of Miami Beach recently offered a portion of the 28-acre North Beach Oceanside Park as the potential location to remember the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South building, which killed 98 people.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman says at a remote hearing that it is unrealistic to pursue any plan for a memorial where the 12-story condo once stood as some family members wish.
That nearly 2-acre location in Surfside, he says, must be sold to compensate victims of the tragedy. At least one bidder has offered up to $120 million for the property.
“It has to be used for the benefit of all the victims collectively,” Hanzman says. The park, he adds, is “a remarkable and extremely valuable piece of real estate. I understand this is a beautiful site that is within walking distance.”
Still, some family members of collapse victims say they would prefer a fitting memorial at the exact location.
“I believe the memorial should be at Surfside, and not Miami Beach, at the site of the tragedy,” says Pablo Langenfeld, whose daughter and son-in-law died in the collapse.
“For us, it’s not a matter of money,” adds David Rodan, whose brother and a cousin were among the victims.
But Hanzman says options other than the park for a memorial are extremely limited. The park is about 100 feet (30 meters) from the collapse site and was used as a command site for search and rescue teams.
“I’m not going to give people false hope,” the judge says.