The humidity was thick this past July 6, very typical of summer weather in steamy South Florida. The combination of heat and a Fourth of July holiday weekend meant that business was a little slow in a Plantation, FL, shopping plaza. Fitness buffs were still getting in their morning workouts, however, and coffee drinkers were enjoying their lattes. And according to authorities, someone opened a natural gas valve in a closed pizzeria where the tenant had vacated the premises in December 2017.
Over the course of four hours, more businesses opened, parking spaces were occupied, and natural gas filled the space of the closed pizzeria. When the air conditioner clicked on, an electrical spark ignited the gas, creating an explosion that blew out walls, shattered windows, and crumbled ceilings. Debris rained down on customers inside of the various retail spaces, as well as on those walking through the parking lot. An ordinary summer day in a shopping plaza was anything but.
Sadly, 22 people were injured. In addition to the injured, the explosion has had a tremendous impact on the surrounding commercial real estate. Within days, many of the buildings impacted were determined to be unsafe. To date, only 8 of 25 that operated prior to the explosion have been able to re-open, and some customers have expressed fear about returning to the plaza. Owners of the shopping center, while vowing to rebuild, are facing huge logistical challenges as they work with local building officials and engineers to create a recovery/rebuild timeline.
In many ways, the consequences of the explosion can be felt very far from South Florida. For landlords and owners around the country, it was a wake-up call to take a look at their own properties, operating systems, and responsibilities.
When it comes to owning and/or managing commercial real estate, it’s imperative for owners to protect their tenants, visitors, and investment. That’s common sense, pure and simple. To accomplish this, though, there are several proactive steps to take today that could very well help you tomorrow:
Preparing for what may or may not happen can be a daunting—albeit necessary—task, and it’s not something that you need to do alone. The team at Morris Southeast Group can assist you in reviewing insurance coverage and lease terms, and our property management services stay on top of scheduling maintenance and repairs, as well as coordinating emergency preparedness training. To learn more about what Morris Southeast Group can do for you, call us at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.