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Plans Are Underway To Rebuild At Site Of Surfside Condo Collapse

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Two months after the collapse of a Florida condo building that killed 98 people, the property in Surfside has been listed for sale. The judge overseeing dozens of lawsuits related to the collapse wants to the land sold quickly to recover money for the families of victims and survivors. But as NPR's Greg Allen reports, to do that, the court will need cooperation from the town of Surfside.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: The site of the collapse overlooking the beach has been cleared. Federal and local investigators have been collecting information from the site. At a hearing today, Michael Goldberg, the court-appointed receiver, told the judge investigators representing residents, insurance companies and others will get their first access to the site later this month.

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MICHAEL GOLDBERG: There's no debris on the site anymore. And you see a bunch of sort of cut off or destructed, for lack of a better term, pilings coming out of the site and rebar coming out of the sidewalls.

ALLEN: Investigators will be allowed to use drones, high sophisticated imaging systems and electromagnetic scans of rebar to begin gathering information on structural issues that are believed to have contributed to the collapse. This week, a commercial real estate broker began marketing the nearly 2-acre beachfront property. One prospective buyer has already offered $120 million. But there's potentially a sticking point that could delay a deal. The town of Surfside is considering rezoning proposals that may reduce the density of any building on the site. Judge Michael Hanzman has expressed his displeasure that the town might take any action to lower the value of the property. Resident Oren Cyrtynbaum echoed that dismay, noting that Surfside is also a defendant.

OREN CYRTYNBAUM: The fact that the City of Surfside may be culpable and have liability from a negligence standpoint - and I hate to even say it, maybe even criminal negligence - would do anything except try and work side by side with us as owners.

ALLEN: Surfside officials are also being asked to help with plans for a memorial to the victims of the collapse. Families of the victims are asking the town to consider a land swap, one that would exchange the now-vacant collapsed site with the town's community center. A new community center with a memorial would be built on the side of the condo collapse. Carlos Wainberg, who lost four family members there, said he considers it a burial site.

CARLOS WAINBERG: And, you know, to see a building - high-end building built on top of that land would be very, very hard on all of us.

ALLEN: Judge Hanzman said he'd ask the court-appointed receiver to discuss the possible land swap with town officials and report back next week. Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.