Leaning tower of San Francisco tilted 2 more inches since January: Arup

San Francisco’s troubled Millennium Tower (pictured) has listed two and half more inches from the vertical over the first half of 2017 according to measurements made by UK engineer Arup and seen by US news network NBC.

The condominium is now tilting 14 inches toward the $1.1b Salesforce tower project, which became the tallest building in the city after topping out in April this year.

The survey, which NBC reports was commissioned by officials from the under-construction Transbay Transit Center, located next door, also shows the building has sunk close to 17 inches at its lowest point, settling a further inch since the problem emerged last year.

Arup’s findings prompted a statement yesterday (18 July) by Daniel Petrocelli, lead attorney for the Millennium homeowners association, which is fighting a legal battle with the building’s developer, Millennium Partners.

The statement said: "This accelerated movement highlights the need to retrofit the foundation as soon as possible. The Millennium Tower Association will request an early trial in its ongoing lawsuit to hold the responsible parties accountable."

Millennium Partners countered with its own statement repeating its accusation that the building’s tilt is caused by neighbouring projects – Transbay Transit Center and the Salesforce Tower – that are "de-watering" the ground and undermining Millennium’s Tower’s foundations.

In its statement the developer said it was committed to "getting to a ‘fix'", and called on the homeowners association (HOA) to continue the mediation process.

The statement said: "We have long warned that construction at these adjacent sites – including ongoing de-watering – was causing vertical and differential settlement of the building. The recent data disclosed confirms that these impacts are continuing. We will support any effort by the HOA to hold accountable those parties that have caused these impacts on the building."

Salesforce Tower, the tallest on the San Francisco skyline, is next to Millennium tower (Hines)

Transbay Transit Center is a multi-modal underground transit hub, part of San Francisco’s Transbay redevelopment of the neighbourhood, a plan that includes Salesforce Tower. Since the tilting issue arose Millennium Partners have levelled blame at the transit center’s deep excavations. 

As GCR reported last year, Transbay Transit Center officials deny that their excavations have caused Millennium Tower to lean. They say they had been warning Millennium Partners about excessive settling since 2010 and that dewatering only began in May 2013, by which time Millennium Tower had already sunk 12 inches.

More than 160 owners of Millennium Tower condominiums have appealed to tax authorities, saying the value of their $1m-plus properties have plummeted, in some cases to as little as 0$.

NBC reports that yesterday a group of 50 owners appealed to the city to waive their property taxes for 2016. The day before, city assessor ruled that 99 residents would receive an average $3,000 reduction on their 2017 taxes. That leaves 75% of the owners with no tax break.

City Assessor Carmen Chu explained that for the 99 owners, the average value dropped $300,000 per unit. But, she added, many units have tax valuations that are so far below current market value that they are not entitled to relief.

The tilting of the 58-story condominium, which opened in 2009, has given rise to a number of lawsuits, including the one against the New York-based developer.

Another suit was launched at the end of last year by 20 homeowners against Millennium Partners and multiple city agencies alleging that they failed to disclose to buyers evidence that the luxury high rise was sinking at an unexpected rate.

Top image shows Millennium Tower, San Francisco, in January 2017 (Victor Grigas/CC BY-SA 4.0)

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  1. Why don’t they try to freeze the ground under the building? until a permanent solution is found (this is akin to freezing the soggy Paris land to drive through underground tunnels!!

  2. Whilst they are all arguing the building might just collapse.

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