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St. Petersburg learns more about high-rise construction, inspections following deadly Surfside condo collapse

The city says it has 420 buildings that are four stories or higher, and that 120 of those are 40 years old or more.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On Thursday, St. Petersburg city council members got an update on high-rise inspections. There’s been no shortage of concern, said council members, after the deadly condo collapse in Surfside.

"It’s always important for us to use these opportunities to look at our process anew," said City Council Member Darden Rice, who requested the update.

"I think the community is safe in general,"  said Don Tyre, who leads the city’s Planning and Development Services.

RELATED: Tears, prayers mark end to search for Florida condo survivors

The city’s construction services presentation showed St. Pete has 420 buildings that are four stories or higher, and that 120 of those are 40 years old or more.

"We are not perfect. And maybe our construction practices aren’t always perfect," said Rice. "So, we need to always check the inspection and building process very seriously."

The city’s top building experts told council members, before making any changes in code or inspections rules, it would be important to know what went wrong at the Champlain Towers in Surfside.

That was a process, in their opinion, likely to take 6 to 12 months.

“And then, knowing what happened there,” said Tyre, “To see if it was an anomaly or is it something we need to provide oversight on.”

City code inspectors said while they review almost every aspect of existing buildings and smaller construction projects, taller buildings are overseen by what’s called a Threshold Building Inspector. Those are typically engineers or architects licensed by the state specifically for high-rise construction.

"Reassuring our residents that this is something we are looking at too - that their safety is important to us - it would be really good timing," said Council Member Gina Driscoll. "This is something that is really shaking a lot of people."

City leaders were told any major changes in construction codes would likely come from the state legislature for purposes of consistency.

In the meantime, they would like St. Pete building inspectors to hold a public meeting to address people’s questions and concerns and report back to the council as more is learned about the cause of the deadly condo collapse.

RELATED: Search of collapsed Florida condo shifts from rescue to recovery

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