San Francisco Chronicle

S.F. asks that leaning tower work stays idle

- By Roland Li

San Francisco officials told Millennium Tower management on Friday not to resume constructi­on work to fix the skyscraper’s leaning and sinking until the city reviews an updated constructi­on approach.

Work was paused last month after the tower at 301 Mission St. settled another inch as workers placed piles to support the foundation, part of a $100 million plan to fix the building.

“In the interest of all involved, please refrain from resuming constructi­on” until the review, Patrick O’Riordan, the city’s Department of Building Inspection interim director, wrote in a letter Friday to James Zaratin, the tower’s general manager. DBI shared the letter with The Chronicle.

“In the interest of all involved, please refrain from resuming constructi­on” until the review. Patrick O’Riordan, Department of Building Inspection, in a letter to James Zaratin, general manager of the troubled Millennium Tower

The city’s request came after an engineerin­g report found that building’s sinking stopped after work was paused, and it’s likely that the constructi­on caused the accelerate­d settling. City officials support that theory, along with the report’s conclusion that the tower is structural­ly safe, O’Riordan wrote.

Doug Elmets, a spokesman for Millennium Tower management, confirmed constructi­on will remain paused.

“Constructi­on will restart with modificati­ons to the drilling methods as soon as specific constructi­on modificati­on options are finalized” with city approval, he said.

It’s the latest headache for the troubled tower, which was completed in 2009. The Chronicle reported in 2016 that it was sinking and tilting, sparking lawsuits and blame.

The city sent inspectors to the tower last month and found no visible changes compared with a March 2021 inspection. They concluded that the building remains habitable and didn’t issue code violations.

O’Riordan said the engineerin­g team was “now developing options for how the Millennium Tower Associatio­n can continue the retrofit work with the end goal of limiting building settlement and assuring its long-term stability.”

The tower has been home to the rich and famous, including former 49ers star Joe Montana and late venture capitalist Tom Perkins. The most expensive condos sold for over $10 million.

The homeowners and developer Millennium Partners settled in 2020, agreeing to repair work that include 52 concrete piles to stabilize the building to bedrock. Homeowners also received between 25% and 40% of the value of their condos before the sinking was disclosed. The value of the settlement wasn’t disclosed.

The tower was built on soft clay, and its original foundation didn’t extend into bedrock, unlike some of the newer nearby skyscraper­s like Salesforce Tower.

Millennium Partners initially blamed the sinking on constructi­on of the nearby

Transbay transit center, citing “dewatering” that weakened the soil. The Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the government agency behind the transit

center, strongly denied that being the cause.

Although the 2020 settlement didn’t assign blame or determine what caused the sinking, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority paid $30 million in public money as part of the settlement in order to protect against future lawsuits.

In 2015, Millennium Partners won approval for another ultra-luxury high-rise at 706 Mission St., just a half mile west and on the same street as Millennium Tower. The developer later withdrew after the sinking and tilting revelation­s and a different builder, Westbrook Partners, completed the building. Last year, Steph Curry bought a nearly $8 million condo in the tower.

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