The sinking luxury condominium in San Francisco that’s also tilting 3 inches every year

New Delhi: San Francisco’s infamous Millennium Tower also continuously tilts to one side.

According to the latest reports, the gleaming all-glass building at 301 Mission Street, the city’s tallest residential building, leans about 3 inches (or 7.5 cm) to the northwest each year.

The 58-story luxury condominium built in 2008 housed star athletes, retired Google employees and other wealthy individuals who owned multimillion-dollar apartments in the building. But most residents began selling their units, spooked by structural issues as the building was found to be sinking.

Experts say all buildings are settling a bit into their foundations, and initial estimates had indicated the building could sink 5.5 inches by 2028. But it has already sunk about 18 inches, reported Dailymail Monday.

Engineers working on stabilizing the building, however, say residents can continue to live there and there is no danger of it collapsing, according to the report.

But the work to stabilize the building seems to have triggered another concern. The ritzy tower now leans 26 inches. Although the tipping started earlier, ongoing work to fix the sinking issue is said to have made this other problem worse.

If it continues to tilt at the current rate, the building’s elevators could stop working in a few years and the plumbing will be rendered non-functional, The Guardian reported on Tuesday, citing engineer Ron Hamburger, who is handling the project. .

Signage outside the 58-story Millennium Tower in San Francisco, CA | Photo: Getty Images

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Millennium Tower and the feeling of sinking

When the building was constructed in 2008, there was a long line of buyers looking to own a piece. The 419 apartments were quickly snapped up for a total of $750 million, as the condo tower opened in 2009 to much fanfare – just after the housing market crashed.

And why not? Complete with a health club, spa, 75-foot indoor pool, on-site cinema, and restaurant and wine bar run by celebrity chef Michael Mina — the Millennium Partners-constructed building was all things luxurious.

The cheapest apartment sold for $1.6 million and the penthouse suites for over $10 million, according to the Dailymail report.

The house phone in the apartments had an “engineering” button, and the residents loved it.

“If you have a clogged toilet or a leak, all you have to do is push the button and someone will come and fix it within 15 minutes,” retired Google engineer Frank Jernigan told the Guardian in 2016. , owner of two units in the building.

But the structure had by then sunk 16 inches and had also tilted at least two inches.

The revelation sparked lawsuits and government investigations.

Homeowners also started reporting cracks later.

Many residents have decided to sell their apartments, although officials have said the tower is safe.

A $100 million plan was put in place in 2020, as part of a confidential settlement, to address structural issues, but the building’s collapse and tilting continued, the report said on Tuesday. Guardian.

During the litigation, some residents had argued that apartments once valued at more than $5 million were no longer worth anything, the report added.

The confidential 2020 settlement also included a plan to compensate owners for the estimated losses.

The Dailymail report says about 100 condos lost $320,000 in resale value. The parking lot now has floor-to-ceiling cracks, he added.

There has been a 10-inch increase in tilt since repairs began last year, according to a report from NBC Bay Area.

Engineers were working on the foundations of the building last year when they discovered they had sunk an inch since repairs began a few months ago. The work was then stopped.

NBC Bay Area then reported that one inch of tilt at the foundation meant an additional 5 inches of tilt at the top.

At a hearing last week, according to the Guardian report, Hamburger told the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that the building was still safe and that installing 18 steel piles on its bedrock would be the best way to secure it. stop failover. It could also reverse some of the tilt, he said.

The San Francisco Building Inspection Department reportedly approved the plan for 18 support beams.

Pedestrians walk under constructed scaffolding in front of the lobby entrance to the Millennium Tower at 301 Mission Street in San Francisco | Photo: Getty

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What caused the structural problems?

In 1906, a devastating earthquake flattened most of the city of San Francisco. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake collapsed parts of the highway and the Bay Bridge. Both were caused by the San Andreas fault line.

Earthquakes typically occur on faults, and San Francisco is crossed by seven subparallel fault lines.

There were always fears that there might be another big earthquake in the future, and that kept San Francisco from having very tall buildings.

But developers have become ambitious in the new millennium. And they pushed ahead with their plans even as a group of engineers from the University of California, Berkeley pushed for tougher standards for tall buildings, according to the 2016 report in The Guardian.

The Millennium Tower was among the city’s first skyscrapers.

In February 2016, a three-bedroom unit was listed for nearly $9 million, according to the report.

But things changed after news broke of the sinking in August of the same year.

Millennium Partners, the developers, had originally blamed the government agency Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) for the structural problems that Millennium Tower had begun to develop.

TJPA was building a massive transit terminal next to the building.

Quoting a spokesperson for Millennium, The Guardian reported in 2016 that the TJPA undertook five years of “dewatering” that caused the water table to drop below the Millennium Tower, “causing the ground to compress more than normal, resulting in a settlement of the building beyond what could have been predicted”.

The TJPA, however, argued that most of the building settlement occurred before the agency began underground construction in the adjacent parcel.

He said a “completely inappropriate foundation for such a heavy structure” was the “only plausible explanation” for the situation.

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