Millennium Tower

Millennium Email Notes ‘Concern' About New Geotechnical Review

Millennium Tower rep’s email to city: “very concerned” about new geotechnical review amid mounting delay costs

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Millennium Tower Association’s consultant complained to city officials last month about the potential impact of an independent geotechnical review of the troubled project to fix the sinking and leaning tower - citing mounting costs of keeping crews on site to quickly resume work on the idled effort.

In the email sent Sept. 27 Matt Dutrow, a technical consultant for the homeowners, told a building inspection official that he had learned the city was beginning the process of hiring an independent geotechnical reviewer.

“The (tower association) is now very concerned as to the impact of this additional review,” Dutrow told city building inspection supervisor Willy Yau in the document obtained by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit.

At the time Dutrow wrote the letter, all fix work had been on hold for more than a month to allow for an expert panel to try and figure out what triggered newly accelerated sinking and tilting during construction.

In the email, Dutrow said that the scheduled test the week of Sept. 27 had already been delayed a week. He noted the association was paying to keep crews and equipment on the site to allow for an “immediately restart with the new piles with the new method’’ once tests were done.

“Based on this understanding the (tower association) paused the contractor,” Dutrow said, “at a $500,000.00 cost per week.”

The consultant wrote, “The MTA must know what the city’s plan is for this additional review so that decisions can be made.” He was referring to decisions about whether to keep crews on the site “to act immediately.’’

Dutrow also pressed the building inspection supervisor to respond “as soon as possible so we can make decisions to minimize the costs of this pause in construction.”

Yau forwarded the email to the head of the Department of Building Inspection, Patrick O’Riordan, who told Dutrow on Oct. 1 that the city was “currently evaluating the need for an additional Engineering Design Review Team member to specifically provide expertise on the drilling and associated geotechnical issues” related to the tower fix.

In the end, a spokesman for the Department of Building Inspection says the city opted to let the Homeowners hire Dan Brown. Brown is a drilling expert recommended by the city-appointed review panel.

Brown soon signed off on the first test to check if the new modified methods would be enough to limit the tower's sinking and tilting while crews installed a three-foot wide steel casing. But the city has yet to sign off on the second phase of that project - which involves sinking a test pile down to bedrock.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin said Wednesday that he is still worried about the cost concerns expressed in Dutrow’s email. However, he also says he is glad a veteran like Dan Brown will monitor tests to assure public safety.

“This is an expert, his name and credentials are on the line and now we’re going to wait for the data that comes back from the sinking of this one 36-inch casing,” Peskin said.

On Wednesday crews continued installing that 100-foot-long, three-foot wide steel casing near the corner of Mission and Fremont streets. That's the corner where the building is currently sinking the most. Building inspection officials say they expect the work on that project will be completed this week.

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