Termites may be abundant within the state of Florida, but it is not often that you hear about these insects infesting buildings located within urban areas. However, for the past several years, city officials in Miami have been debating over the fate of their city’s historic courthouse. The courthouse is listed on the United State’s Register for Historic Places. The majestic building is considered to be an architectural feat, and several prominent architects have competed for an opportunity to redesign certain areas that had fallen under disrepair. Standing at three hundred and sixty feet, the building is believed to be the tallest standing structure south of Baltimore, Maryland. Construction on the courthouse began in 1925 and was completed in 1928. Once the 1980s rolled around, inspectors and city officials could no longer ignore the significant amounts of disrepair that the building had fall under. Despite this concern, it was not until 2014 that city officials began to seriously consider how to handle the buildings many flaws. These flaws include mold, asbestos, outdated safety exits, and perhaps most damaging of all, termite infestations.
In 2014, residents of Miami voted against building a new courthouse, which would have cost taxpayers two hundred and nineteen million dollars. Two years later, officials with the Miami-Dade County Inspector General’s office claimed that the building had not undergone inspections since 1988. This sparked controversy, as public buildings in Miami are legally required to undergo inspections every ten years. In order to gain public support for a new courthouse, Commissioner Xavier Suarez gave a group of residents a tour of the courthouse where he pointed out the many areas that had sustained termite damages.
The courthouse has a leaky roof and the basement floods regularly. This water damage could explain the heavy termite presence, as termites require significant amounts of water. Structural engineers do not believe that the building will collapse, but they did recommend that the building be evacuated during hurricanes as a result of its weakening structure. In addition to the water problems, termites are weakening the building’s support columns, and Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava recently claimed that the building poses health risks and is currently in a “dangerous situation”. The termites have also claimed much of the furniture within the courthouse. Due to this, employees are not allowed to take their furniture out of the courthouse, as doing so could spread termites to other structures. Despite the few years of public resistance, a couple of days ago the County Commision voted to proceed with the construction of a new courthouse. Several notable construction companies are now bidding for a chance to take on the new courthouse construction project.