On Wednesday, the body overseeing the construction of the Transbay Center raised shields against criticism and pointed the broad, wagging finger of blame over the downward trend of the Millennium Tower’s property values and foundations squarely at Millennium Partners themselves.
Naturally, there was no chance of that being the final word. Wednesday evening, Millennium Partners fired a statement right back at Transbay.
In an emailed statement to Curbed SF, Millennium Partners spokesperson PJ Johnston said "all buildings settle" (which of course is true, although the rate of settlement is the bone of contention here), and alleged again that the difference maker with the Millennium building is that "it exists in a location where TJPA's massive underground construction work was subsequently performed."
(Italics in original.)
Millennium Partners insists that when the condos sold, the building had only settled "within the revised predicted ranges" that they expected. (What those ranges were they don’t say, although they persist that they were safe.)
It was when Transbay started underground construction that the sinking accelerated, according to Johnston. The statement reiterated once again the developer’s longstanding contention that the building is safe despite its problems and promised a fix. However, Millennium Partners did not say exactly what said fix would be.
The Transbay Joint Powers Association contends that it predicted the tower’s problems before their own construction began, and even made a bid to limit Transbay’s liability by entering into a record-keeping agreement with Millennium Partners. Transbay claims Millennium backed out the arrangement.
Millennium Partners denies the whole thing, and the two of them could (and presumably will) continue the game of gainsaying until all of the practical and legal fallout of the building’s predicament (which already includes a lawsuit targeting both parties and a promised investigation by city politicos) winds down.
Perhaps more interesting than the twin walls of denial is Johnston’s note about the moorings of other major high-rises around the city: According to him, SFMOMA, Embarcadero Center, the Marriott, 350 Mission, the Meridian, the Intercontinental Hotel, 101 California, and the St. Regis hotel all have foundations in the Colma Formation, the dense sand deep (but not too deep) below San Francisco’s surface.
That is to say, they're also not drilled into bedrock.
We haven’t yet confirmed that allegation with the management of those buildings. But for the record, nearby 181 Fremont, still under construction, has insisted for weeks that it’s drilled in.
- Transbay Says, "Don’t Blame Us For Millennium" [Curbed SF]
- Inevitable Millennium Tower Investigation Begins [Curbed SF]
- Class Action Suit Over Millennium Tower [Curbed SF]
- The Colma Formation [NPS]
- 181 Fremont Drilled Into Bedrock [Curbed SF]