More than 10 years after the Dolphin Tower condominium in downtown Sarasota closed due to structural issues that forced residents to evacuate, the tower will once again have to undergo major repairs that could affect both residents and tenants of the property.
Jim Toale, president of the 101 Condominium Association of Sarasota, confirmed that the work was needed in an email exchange with the Business Observera sister newspaper of Sarasota Observerand said what would happen to residents and retailers would be known later in the week after the project’s contractor shared details.
“The contractor decides how he will execute the plans and specifications,” writes Toale. “Obviously there will be an impact on our residents, the business unit owner and her tenants, but we don’t have that detail from the contractor yet. We should have this information by the end of the week.
While no one can dispute the importance of getting the job done, the project worries a handful of retailers in a section of the building that faces Palm Avenue and backs up to the garage.
The big fear for traders is that they will be forced to relocate – permanently or temporarily – to accommodate the works and fear that they will be able to survive the business disruption. The Observer confirmed that at least one local commercial real estate company in the city has contacted building owners looking for space for Palm Avenue tenants to move.
The building, now known as The 101 Condominium, is in downtown Sarasota at 101 S. Gulfstream Ave. Built in the early 1970s, the Dolphin Tower, as it was then known, was closed in 2010 after major structural problems were discovered on the fourth floor. Residents were forced to evacuate and the building remained closed for several years.
According to reports at the time, less than a month after its discovery, the problem was so severe that it could have led to a collapse, similar to what happened last year with the South Champlain Tower of 12 stories at Surfside.
The issue this time around is the building’s three-story parking lot, which has closed for repairs.
According to Toale, the current project “will strengthen the connections between some of the garage columns and the parking decks.”
“The solution is to support parking decks around columns in need of remedial work with temporary supports called ‘shoring,'” he wrote. Shoring, according to engineering blog The Structural World, is used to support a building to prevent it from collapsing.
“For interior columns, reinforcement consists of placing a collar around the tops of the first and second floor columns and physically attaching these collars to the column and the slab. For columns at the perimeter of the building, concrete beams armed are built on the second and third floors which are linked to the columns and the slab below.”
Toale says the problem was first discovered during a structural reinforcement project on the 15-story tower eight years ago. An engineer at the time found that the connection between some of the columns and the parking deck was not strong enough. Despite the discovery, the engineer “did not consider it urgent to correct the condition”.
The design to correct the problem was completed two years ago and a special assessment to complete the work was approved in November 2020.
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