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A brief history of the sinking Millennium Tower

From star athletes to a bonkers penthouse, a look back at the luxury tower currently in crisis

Patricia Chang

Before it made headlines for rapidly sinking into the earth, the tony Millennium Tower was known as a gorgeous bellwether of the Yerba Buena neighborhood’s refocus on growth and unbridled luxury. Sleek and cool, it’s widely considered a far more aesthetically thoughtful structure compared to its residential counterparts—e.g., One Rincon Hill, the Infinity Towers, just to name two.

Surrounded by Mission, Fremont, and Beale Streets, the skyscraper was finished in 2009 and is currently the tallest building in San Francisco to include residences. Though described as 60 floors, it is technically only 58 (the 13th and 44th floors are missing due to, ironically enough, superstition).

Designed by Handel Architects, and engineered by DeSimone Consulting Engineers and constructed by Webcor Builders, it’s also home to Michael Mina’s lauded RN74 restaurant.

In 2010, Dan Goodwin (a.k.a. Skyscraper Man) scaled the exterior in order to draw light to fire safety (and himself). He was arrested shortly after the stunt.

Also in 2010, the powers that be reportedly noticed that the Millennium had started to sink—to the tune of 10 inches. While the effects of gravitational pull are normal for any high-rise, this amount of drop, it seems, is not normal. (For comparison, the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia, formerly the tallest buildings in the world, sank only a half inch since their 1998 completion.)

Over the years, a handful of local notables have called 301 Mission home. Two years ago, 49ers icon Joe Montana sold his pad in the blue-grey building. And earlier this year, a noted San Francisco Giant purchased one of the property’s swankiest condos for a cool $4.25 million.

While each unit can fetch anywhere from $1.5 - $5 million, the penthouses are sights to behold, outshining the lower units. This over-the-top two-bedroom stunner hit the market in 2015 for $9.45 million. And Silicon Valley bigwig Tom Perkins’ place has become the stuff of ostentatious legend.


A photo posted by Brent Sleeper (@brentsleeper) on

Currently, the city’s most expensive one-bedroom is located inside the troubled structure, asking a whopping $3.8 million.

As for today’s breaking news, it’s not only bound to have an effect on nearby towers nearing completion—the ultra-luxe 181 Fremont, which we should point out is drilled 260 feet into the bedrock—but will have two neighbors battling it out for years.

According to today’s story in the Chronicle, "The Millennium's engineers anchored the building over a thick concrete slab with piles driven roughly 80 feet into dense sand" as opposed to drilling piles into more secure bedrock, which was a cost-cutting measure.

Yet according to the Millennium, new Transit Center construction is to blame.

With the Millennium Partners and the Transbay Center fighting each other in a game of blame-placing, this Leaning Tower of Yerba Buena will turn into a Hatfield-and-McCoy San Francisco real estate battle for the ages.

Millennium Tower

301 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 Visit Website