The infamous sinking luxury tower is now tilting 26 inches, after a previous fix caused even more leaning, so engineers are instituting yet another controversial new fix.
Back in the late summer, the extremely troubled high-rise Millennium Tower got permits for a $100 million fix that was supposed to end all of these “stinking and sinking” jokes (and protect terrified residents) once and for all. But true to this cursed condo tower’s luck, the sinking only got worse, and then it turned out that the fix itself was causing the increased sinking.
And so it is back to the drawing board for project engineer Ronald Hamburger and engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger. They now have a new plan, according to NBC Bay Area, who obtained a letter to Millennium Tower homeowners and the city. That letter outlines a controversial new fix that will make things worse before they get better, as the letter acknowledges the fix will make the building sink and lean “a little more.”
The new plan involves installing fewer “support piles,” which are like tubes of concrete intended to shore up the building. While the original plan called for 52 piles, which caused more sinking, the new plan calls for only 18. As the Chronicle explains, “The piles are expected to relieve pressure on the tower’s existing foundation and mitigate the sinking and tilting. Piles would be installed to connect the building’s foundation to rock along its Mission Street and Fremont Street-facing sides.”
That letter to the tower’s homeowners said that “With the reduced number of piles we expect somewhat more recovery of tilt to the west than originally planned, however, there will be less tilt recovery to the north.”
Given the tower’s troubled track record, independent experts see cause for worry. “There's a lot of concern about it,” foundation expert David Williams told NBC Bay Area, noting that fewer piles increases the likelihood of cracks to the building’s foundation. “Any cracks will just open up and they become paths for corrosion.”
This new plan has not yet been approved by city engineers, but the Chron reports that if it were approved, work would be “completed by the end of 2022, with sidewalk restoration by January 2023.” But at the rate things are going, the Millennium Tower could have structural problems seemingly for another millennium.
Image: Michaelgimbel via Wikimedia Commons