San Francisco

Millennium Tower in San Francisco Has Sunk, Tilted Since Opening

A San Francisco tower that famed 49ers quarterback Joe Montana and Giants' outfielder Hunter Pence call home is sinking and tilting.

The Millennium Tower currently holds down a spot in the top 10 for residential buildings in the world according to Worth magazine, but its 58 stories have dropped 16 inches into the ground and shifted two inches to the northwest since being built in 2008, as reported by Phil Matier and Andy Ross for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Professor Greg Deierlein, director of the John A. Blume Earthquake Center at Stanford University, says the building's movement is a cause for concern, but does not present a safety risk, according to Matier and Ross.

A spokesperson for Millennium Partners, the tower's builders, echoed a similar sentiment.

"The settlement has not significantly affected the seismic performance of the building, and does not represent a safety risk," the spokesperson told Matier and Ross.

Residents living in the tower's high-end condos, which is located at 301 Mission Street, have not reported any damage to their residences. The only reported damaged has occurred in an underground garage, Matier and Ross reported.

Ashok Vaish bought a 1,500-square-foot, two-bedroom unit on the 37th floor three years ago for just under $2 million. He said he was not told about the sinking when he bought the place, but found out about six months ago when neighbors started talking.

"I don't think there's any danger at all," Vaish said. "It's just a structural issue that needs to be fixed."

The owners of the building allege that construction for the new Transbay Transit Center next door to the tower is to blame for the movement, but experts believe that little can be done to fix the issue, Matier and Ross reported.

In a press release Monday, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) denied any responsibility for the tilting and excessive settlement of the Millennium Tower.

The TJPA received claims for damages from certain residents of the Millennium Tower back in May holding them responsible for the tilting and excessive settlement.

"The residents’ claims against the TJPA are misplaced; as demonstrated by data collected over more than seven years, full responsibility for the tilting and excessive settlement of the building lies with Millennium Partners, the developer of the tower," TJPA said.

"The 60-story Millennium Tower is made of concrete rather than steel, resulting in a very heavy building," TJPA said in their press release. "This heavy structure rests on layers of soft, compressible soil. The foundation of the tower, however, consists only of a concrete slab supported by short piles that fail to reach the bedrock below. That foundation is inadequate to prevent settlement of a building with the weight of the Tower. In contrast, the Salesforce Tower and 181 Fremont Tower, also adjacent to the Transit Center, are supported on piles drilled down to bedrock. Millennium Partners’ poor design decision is the cause of the tilt and excessive vertical settlement of the Millennium Tower."

NBC Bay Area's Mark Matthews contributed to this report.

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