City issues subpoena over sinking San
Francisco luxury high-rise
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[September 21, 2016]
By Curtis Skinner
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - San Francisco's
city attorney on Tuesday issued a subpoena to the developers of a luxury
condominium high-rise that is tilting and has sunk more than a foot (30
cm), to determine if structural issues were appropriately conveyed to
Some 400 residential units of the Millennium Tower, which opened in the
heart of downtown in 2009, have been purchased, and City Attorney Dennis
Herrera said he is worried the building's settling was not properly
"I have serious concerns that the disclosures required by state law ...
did not contain information about the settling of the Property," Herrera
wrote in a letter to the developers, Millennium Partners.
P.J. Johnston, a spokesman for Millennium Partners, said by phone: "We
would have made this information available to him irrespective of a
subpoena, all he had to do was call."
The Millennium Tower is among the highest-profile buildings constructed
amid San Francisco's real estate boom, though its sinking raises
concerns about development on the city's seismically vulnerable
The Transbay Joint Powers Authority, created under state law to oversee
the creation of the Transbay Transit Center nearby, said last month the
building has sunk 16 inches (41 cm) - or 10 more inches than expected
during its lifespan - and also that it was tilting.
The authority said the 58-story building is set upon a concrete platform
with piles driven 80 feet (24 m) deep instead of reaching all the way to
bedrock another 120 feet down.
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Two residents filed a proposed class action last month against the
developer as well as the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which
excavated near the tower for the transit center.
The lawsuit says the building is still sinking at a rate of 1 inch
per year and would likely settle another 15 inches. It also alleged
tilting at the building's base translates to a 15-inch tilt at the
The lawsuit said developers first disclosed the potential
foundational problems in June 2015.
The authority has blamed the settlement on the developers for
failing to anchor the building to bedrock, while Millennium has
blamed the authority's excavation.
Johnston said many buildings in the area were built like the
Millennium Tower and the building passed a seismic and structural
safety study after settling was discovered in 2014. He said the
homeowner's association was notified of the study at the time.
Johnston said preliminary results of a recently commissioned study
showed the building is still safe.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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