San Francisco city attorney subpoenas Millennium Tower developer

Millennium Tower
Millennium Tower


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The San Francisco City Attorney’s Office has formally subpoenaed Millennium Partners Tuesday over disclosures regarding the sinking 58-story condo tower.

The Millennium Tower, a luxury highrise located at 301 Mission St. in downtown San Francisco, has sunk 16 inches and is leaning more than 6 inches since it opened in 2008. More than 400 homeowners live in the 58 story tower.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera served the subpoena as part of the office’s investigation into whether the developer complied with state law by disclosing known structural sinking issues to purchasers of more than 400 residential units in the Millennium Tower.

Current projections suggest the tower could ultimately sink more than 30 inches.

The developers blamed the building’s excessive settlement on groundwater pumping at the neighboring Transbay Terminal construction site.

Speaking at a press conference in downtown San Francisco, Millennium Partners founding partner Christopher Jeffries said what he called “reckless behavior” on the part of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority has caused the Millennium Tower to sink more than was originally projected.

Jeffries said that groundwater pumping started at the Transbay Terminal project a full year earlier than officials have previously stated and has caused groundwater in the area to drop a “staggering” 20 feet.

The authority agreed before construction started to strictly limit and monitor any effects on groundwater in the area around the Transbay Terminal site. However, when it became clear those limits had been exceeded it refused to act and instead blamed issues on the design of the Millennium Tower and stopped responding to requests for data, Jeffries said.

“There’s been a lot of talk and speculation about what people think the problem is,” Jeffries said. “There is only one issue here. TJPA’s dewatering is the issue.” San Francisco City Supervisor Aaron Peskin is demanding answers from the builders and his own colleagues.

“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 cover letter for the subpoena.

Peskin told KRON4’s Lydia Pantazes Tuesday that “the Millennium Corporation knew the building was sinking more than projected and failed to disclose that.”

KRON4 has previously talked to the developer, who said the accusations are outrageous.

A lawsuit filed in August by lawyers representing homeowners alleges that the building, which sits on landfill, was built using a concrete slab and piles into sand rather than into bedrock “to cut costs.”

The lawsuit also names the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, and alleges that excavation on the Transbay Terminal project next door has contributed to the Millennium Tower’s subsidence — a claim the authority has denied.

Millennium Partners have previously said the building remains safe and blamed the Transbay Terminal project for the additional settlement, saying it remained within projected limits until that project began construction in 2010.

Millennium Partners officials planned to hold a media availability later Tuesday morning to discuss the latest developments regarding the property.

The Board of Supervisors’ Government Audit and Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on building standards in seismic safety zones on Thursday at 10 a.m. Peskin has said he plans to question city officials to determine “who knew what and when they knew it.”

Transbay Joint Powers Authority officials did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday, but have previously blamed the Millennium Tower’s settlement issues on the fact that it was designed with a concrete slab foundation and piles into sand rather than bedrock.

The authority has argued that the building, which was completed in 2009, had already settled more than anticipated by 2010, before construction began on the Transbay Terminal site, and that other buildings in the area have not shown similar issues.

Millennium Partners officials today argued that the building’s foundation is of the same design used by most current buildings of its size in the city, and that drilling down into bedrock is not normal practice.

While they acknowledged that the building had sunk more than projected by 2010, they said the amount was well within design limits.

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