The troubled Millennium Tower in San Francisco has tilted two and half more inches in just the first half of this year, according to new monitoring data reviewed by NBC Bay Area.
Attorneys for the Millennium homeowners association acknowledged the unexpected westward lean in a statement released Tuesday by the lead attorney in the legal battle against the developer, Daniel Petrocelli.
“This accelerated movement highlights the need to retrofit the foundation as soon as possible,” Petrocelli said in the statement. “The Millennium Tower Association will request an early trial in its ongoing lawsuit to hold the responsible parties accountable.”
Also on Tuesday, some 50 apartment owners in the building packed the city’s assessment appeals board to press their case. They say they are stuck with nearly worthless condos and want the city to give them property tax relief on their 2016 bills.
On Monday, NBC Bay Area reported the city assessor concluded that just 99 residents will receive an average $3,000 reduction on their 2017 property taxes. That leaves 75 percent of the owners with no break. City Assessor Carmen Chu explained that for the 99 owners, the average value dropped $300,000 per unit. But, she said, many units have tax values that are already so far below current market value that they are not entitled to relief.
The owners could take no solace from the latest data taken in June from the rooftop of the 58-story building. It shows since November, the structure unexpectly tilted two and a half inches more to the west in just the first half of this year.
The data, compiled by the ARUP engineering firm brought in by officials of the nextdoor Transbay transit terminal project, suggest the structure is tilting twice as fast as it had been in earlier ARUP data. It is now listing at least 14 inches toward the massive Salesforce building going up nearby on Mission Street.
The data also show the building has sunk close to 17 inches at its low point, settling about an inch since the problem emerged last year.
The new data have residents like 35th floor unit owner Theresa Strickland on edge.
“This is just one more piece of stress on the owners,” she said after the appeals board hearing Tuesday. “Of which, I just want to say ... we’re good people; none of us signed up for any of this.”
Another owner at the hearing, engineer and attorney Jerry Dodson, worries about the tower’s unpredictability.
“It’s very alarming,” Dodson said of the latest findings. “It’s very alarming that the building can unexpectedly move like that, and it’s a sign to me that the building is not only sinking and tilting, but it’s unstable.”
In a statement released Tuesday, PJ Johnston, spokesman for tower developer Millennium Partners, said Millennium is disputing the extent of the tilting while suggesting nearby projects like the mammoth Salesforce tower are to blame for removing groundwater and destabilizing the Millennium foundation.
"The recent data disclosed confirms that these impacts are continuing," the statement said.
Meanwhile, Supervisor Aaron Peskin is growing impatient. “Somebody needs to go into the ground with a fix,” he said, adding that after multiple hearings over nearly a year, the city appears no closer to a fix. “I will continue to have hearings until this problem is resolved one way or the other, but I do feel like, you know, I’m yelling into the wind.”
Here is the full statement Millennium Partners released Tuesday:
"Our top priority has always been getting to a “fix.” To that end, Mission Street Development is actively engaged mediation with the the home owners association and other parties to address the building issues, including seeking to identify an effective remedy to the settlement of the building. We are confident that this mediation will be able to resolve the building issues, including any concerns about tilt of the building, so long as the HOA remains committed – as are we – to the success of the mediation process.
"Current data shows that the tilt of the building is actually less than the 15 inches the HOA’s expert engineer estimated in August 2016. We are encouraged that the HOA is focused on timely solutions to address the building settlement issues. We are hopeful that the HOA will take steps to protect the building from further harm from adjacent construction at the Transbay Transit Center and Salesforce Tower projects.
"We have long warned that construction at these adjacent sites – including ongoing de-watering – was causing vertical and differential settlement of the building. The recent data disclosed confirms that these impacts are continuing. We will support any effort by the HOA to hold accountable those parties that have caused these impacts on the building."