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San Francisco’s leaning Millennium Tower sinks faster, renovation halted

A renovation of San Francisco’s leaning Millennium Tower has been put on hold after crews discovered the building was sinking at a faster rate during construction.

The nearly $ 100 million renovation was halted on August 19 and a two to four week moratorium was announced “as we try to better understand the mechanisms associated with the increase in the settlement rate and the means available to fix it, ”Doug Elmets, a spokesperson for the luxury residential property owners association, said in an email.

“There has been no physical damage to the building and it remains completely safe,” Elmets said. KNTV-TV first reported the suspension of the renovation project.

One of the tallest skyscrapers in San Francisco, the Millennium Tower has sunk since construction began in 2006 and is tilting. The building is listed as the sixth tallest building in San Francisco, according to skyscrapercenter.com.

Millennium Tower is at the heart of San Francisco’s South-of-Market, which has grown over the past two decades from a forgotten downtown district to a tech money capital in the city. Right next to the Millennium Tower is the Salesforce Tower, the tallest building in San Francisco, as is the Salesforce Transit Center, an elaborate bus terminal that will one day connect to Caltrain service to Silicon Valley.

One problem with the Millennium Tower, according to some structural engineers, is that its foundation only reaches a layer of sand, just above a layer of clay, instead of sinking deeper into the substrate. rocky.

Such a building practice was common in this part of San Francisco, where the bedrock is quite deep under thick layers of soft soil, sand and clay – but it was for much shorter and lighter buildings. than the Millennium Tower.

In October, the owners association, Millennium Tower Assn., Announced plans for the technical renovation of the Millennium Tower to “prevent any major future settlement of the skyscraper.” The plan called for the installation of 52 concrete piles – or columns – that would anchor the building to bedrock, 250 feet underground.

In October, the association said the tilting and sinking of the Millennium Tower had all but come to a halt in the previous two years. “The technical upgrading will provide long-term assurance of the tower performance for future construction nearby and potentially reverse a significant portion of its tilt,” the association said in October.

Millennium Tower was developed by New York-based Millennium Partners who sold the residential units to people who bought condo units in the building.

Millennium Partners is trying to build another Hollywood skyscraper project, a project that has come under fire after state geology officials said there were studies that “strongly support the presence of an active fault strand penetrating “into the site of the skyscraper.

Millennium Partners and the Los Angeles City Hall have previously dismissed the state’s concerns and insisted that skyscrapers can be built safely. Further seismic studies have been commissioned for the Hollywood Center site.

Opponents of the developer’s Hollywood Center project have said lingering issues with the Millennium Tower in San Francisco should be a warning sign for Los Angeles not to allow the Millennium Project in Hollywood to continue.

“The ongoing disaster in San Francisco is further proof that developer Millennium Partners cannot and should not be trusted,” said Robert P. Silverstein, a Pasadena lawyer who represents neighborhood groups opposed to development.

Millennium Partners declined to comment.