Millennium Tower Removing Scaffolding Despite City Order

The Millennium Tower Homeowners Association is balking at the city’s order Thursday to reinstall protective scaffolding that it took down earlier in the day. The city required the sinking and leaning tower to keep the scaffolding in place at the base of the building until a cracked 36th floor window is replaced.

The twist came as the city building inspectors appeared prepared to accept the findings of a consultant that the window cracked due to some unknown blunt force on the exterior of the glass and not because the building has sunk and tilted 18 inches on the side where the failure occurred.

On Thursday morning, the Millennium Tower HOA board notified residents all the scaffolding would be removed by Friday.

The same day, the city Department of Building Inspection sent its own letter saying that while it was satisfied with Millennium’s consultant’s report concluding that tilting did not cause the window to crack, the scaffolding should nonetheless remain in place until a new window is installed.

The replacement window is being made in China and could take several weeks to arrive, says Howard Dickstein, the newly elected head of the HOA Governing Board.

Dickstein told NBC Bay Area in an interview after the city visited the building, that residents are anxious to get rid of the steel and wood canopy over the sidewalk because in their minds, it wrongly suggests there is a lingering safety issue from the cracked window above.

“It’s an annoying reminder,” he said, adding: “We’re glad to see it gone.”

But Millennium failed to alert the city before it started taking down the scaffolding Thursday morning, just as it was about to incur another $10,000 monthly payment to keep it in place.

After the investigative unit contacted the Department of Building Inspection for comment, the city dispatched an inspector, who issued a notice of violation for removing the scaffolding in defiance of a city order, said William Strawn, spokesman for the Department of Building Inspection.

Officials ordered the work halted and the portion already taken down on Fremont Street be restored by 5 p.m.

But Dickstein told NBC Bay Area the order simply was not justified and he would refuse to comply. He says all the experts who have reviewed the matter agree the crack was an isolated case and not related to the building’s tilting troubles.

“There’s absolutely no danger to pedestrians or any reason” to keep the Fremont scaffold in place, Dickstein said, adding that the only possible risk would on the Mission Street side of the tower. Keeping the scaffolding up there, he says, at least makes some sense. He says the homeowners will agree to do that in the abundance of caution and as an act of good faith. But restoring the Fremont side is another matter.

“Otherwise in our mind it is kind of irrational and we would appeal it to the administrative board,” Dickstein says. “We’re hopeful that will work and in the end its really much ado about nothing because we will have a new window.”

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