San Francisco’s Tallest Residential Building Is Sinking at an Alarming Rate

by Matthew Memrick
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It’s no secret that San Francisco’s tallest residential building is sinking, but its rapid descent into the earth is alarming.

When finished in 2009, the 58-story, 419-residence Millenium Tower skyscraper became the city’s most expensive and luxurious residential building. San Francisco’s version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa only cost $350 million to complete.

Since then, residents say they’ve undergone a sinking feeling. Currently, the building is close to 17 to 19 inches. If it reaches 40 inches, building designers say elevators and plumbing will not function. The building is 645-feet tall.

According to Architectural Digest and NBC Bay Area, work to fix the problem has only worsened things.

Tower Has History of Sinking

When the 301 Mission Street building was finished in 2009 after four years of work, it was considered a marvel among city architecture.

Many wanted in on purchasing a living space with NFL legendary quarterback Joe Montana and former MLB baseball player Hunter Pence becoming residents.

Architectural Digest has followed the building’s construction over the years. It tilts at a rate of three inches a year because it is sinking into the ground in a northwest direction.  

By 2016, the building sunk 16 inches into the ground and leans two inches to the northwest. Residents filed a $500 million lawsuit as a result of the sinking.

NBC Bay Area cites the sinking over a few reasons. Developers say there’s a groundwater loss from nearby construction. Actual geotechnical experts say that the foundation is not quite cemented in bedrock.

Maybe, it’s because the building is so heavy. The NBC report said that the building weighs about 686 million pounds and is the third heaviest building in San Francisco. The report said the top nine heaviest San Francisco buildings all weigh more than 300 million pounds, but this particular building is the only one that’s leaning.

Efforts to Fix Building Adding To Problem

Call it miscommunication, but Architectural Digest reported that the fix engineer didn’t properly communicate with the actual fixers last year.

Ron Hamburger said his team did not advise contractor Shimmick Construction on how to stop the tower from sinking and tilting as they did their work. Hamburger told city officials that it was Shimmick’s “prerogative” in installing piles during the process. 

Hamburger said the necessary fix will require 18 steel pipes inserted into the bedrock 250 feet underneath the tower. Officials say that will stop and possibly reverse the tilting. Additionally, the fix contractor said this work needs to be done and completed quickly. 

Former NFL Star Montana Suing Over San Francisco Building’s Tilt

Joe Montana’s in a bind since buying his Millienum Tower condo

First, the building officials got the famous quarterback to promote the building between 2010 and 2015. By 2013, he bought a condo there for $3.7 million.

According to Bleacher Report, he’s suing the building’s developers for about $1 million over all the trouble he’s gone through over the tilting.

In his lawsuit, the 65-year-old man complains that the condo is “off level and the fit and finish of the unit are in disrepair.”  

Outsider.com