At a Board of Supervisors committee hearing Friday, one of the engineers tasked with reviewing the foundation of the now sinking Millennium Tower when it was in the design and construction process testified that he and his colleague did not factor in the possible impacts of the excavation and construction happening on the adjacent Transbay Transit Center something that the developer, Millennium Partners, has repeatedly tried to blame for causing the excess settlement that is leading to many, many lawsuits and unhappy condo owners. As NBC Bay Area reports, outside engineer Hardip Pannu told the committee, "We knew there was a big project and it was next door to this building, and I had no idea, you know, what kind of influence it might have on this kind of building, so it was important to mention that."
Apart from the mention that the Transbay Transit Center's construction could have an impact on the tower, Pannu's analysis did not take the adjacent project into consideration or anticipate what those impacts might be.
Adding fuel to the controversy is documentation from as early as 2006 in which city building inspection department engineer Hanson Tom said that the peer-review engineers were not responsible for considering the Transbay project or its impacts.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin expressed his frustration with the blame game so far, and the fact that no one seems to want to accept any responsibility for the building's troubles. "Nobody is taking responsibility,” he told NBC Bay Area after the hearing. "Not the peer reviewers, not the Department of Building Inspection, not Millennium. It’s quite frustrating."
Since news of the Millennium Tower's sinking and tilting woes broke last summer, representatives for the Transbay Joint Powers Authority have said Millennium Partners made an error in not drilling their tower's pilings down to bedrock, as most tall buildings in the area have done since this project was built in 2009/10. The building, made with heavy concrete as opposed to steel construction, was the first building of its size to be built over what was formerly water, off-shore in bay mud in the former Yerba Buena cove, and the developer used past precedent to drill down 80 feet for its foundation pilings.
Since it was constructed, the 58-story tower has settled 16 inches into the ground, well more than the couple of inches that is typical for large buildings, and it has tilted two inches off center to the northwest. The tilting in particular, though it does not compromise the safety of the building according to experts, can wreak havoc with elevators, and cause cracking throughout.
Socketsite reports that in spite of homeowners' claims that their units are worthless now and should be appraised as such for the purposes of property taxes, a Millennium penthouse did just sell albeit for much less than the owners paid two years ago, but still for a healthy $5.75 million. This was down 29 percent from its 2015 sale prices of $8.1 million, and well below the $8.995 million the current owner was asking when the unit hit the market in November 2016.