Crestview Towers residents with 15 minutes to grab belongings face uncertainty

Nori Morales had 15 minutes. She had accumulated clothes and furniture during the two years she had lived at the 152-unit Crestview Towers. The time she was allowed to walk into the condemned 10-story building Friday in North Miami Beach was just not enough.

Morales works as a nail technician. She has struggled during the coronavirus pandemic, but business has picked up with the COVID vaccine. She still can’t believe she is homeless. Once she was at the door, she ran inside her apartment to get her much-needed supplies for work.

She had to leave the rest behind.

“I live in hell, honestly,” Morales said.

Morales was among the residents who only had hours to evacuate July 2nd after the city condemned the building over a Jan. 11 report from an engineer who deemed it unsafe. Officials said the condo association must submit a new 40-year recertification report that addresses all structural and electrical issues.

Darwin Reyes, who had lived at the Crestview Towers for five years, said the experience Friday was stressful. The evacuation affected about 300 people at 2025 NE 164th St. To return, he needed an escort who stood by while loudly doing a countdown.

The uncertainty of not knowing when officials will allow them to go back home for good is what Yanosh Serebryaanik finds most stressful.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Serebryaanik said.

North Miami Beach City Manager Arthur H. Sorey III said residents were not safe in the building.

North Miami Beach Police Department Chief Richard Rand said there was an ongoing investigation into the Crestview Towers Condominium Association’s alleged misuse of funds.

City officials rejected two new surveys filed by the condo association this week because they did not comply with the certification process or did address problems raised in the January report. Crestview also has nearly $500,000 in outstanding fines for code violations dating back to 2014.

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