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Millennium Tower: Lawyers claim skyscraper will tilt 10 inches in two years

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That’s just too much

Patricia Chang

Eager to speed up the trial date in one of the many, many, many lawsuits over the sinking and leaning Millennium Tower, lawyers for the building homeowners association argued on Monday that San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow should move the case to trial as quickly as possible because the building is allegedly tilting too fast too wait.

Condo owners involved in the suit want to extend the building’s foundations to bedrock, one of several potential fixes assessed at a price of $150 million.

NBC reports that the homeowners’ lawyers impressed upon the judge that the building is leaning at a catastrophic rate—or so they would have us believe:

“The latest data shows the tower has tilted about 2.5 inches west to the Salesforce skyscraper since January. That’s ‘more than twice the historical tipping rate,’’ the owners’ lawyers argued to the judge.

They noted that the building tilted a total of 11.5 inches in the eight years since it opened in 2009 and the end of last year.

‘At the current rate of tilt, even a two-year delay could add another eight to 10 inches of tilt to the west,’ the homeowner lawyers said in the filing.”

Condo owners want to speed up the timeline so they can—pardon the term—lean on the developer for a fix before they say it’ll be too late.

The embattled tower developers, who are both suing and being sued over the building in multiple cases, caught a break in late July when engineering firm Simpson, Gumpterz, and Heger reviewed the seismic integrity of the tower and concluded that it was safe—or at least, as safe as any equivalent structure could be in the event of a large quake.

The report reads in part:

Although the coupling beams are expected to degrade in strength when the building is subjected to strong ground shaking, this does not affect the response to earthquake shaking of the building overall. [...]

Further, the foundation piles are adequate to withstand the shaking associated with such an event.

Finally, the additional settlement that has occurred since June 2016 has not caused any significant impact on stress in the structure to date, nor had significant impact on the building's ability to resist strong earthquakes; and does not change any of our conclusions expressed in our October 2016 report or in this report of our supplemental analyses and evaluations.

The report’s conclusion notes that “settlement recorded to date has not compromised the ability of the building to resist strong earthquakes.”

Millennium Partner lawyers stressed this report (the second from the same firm) to countermand homeowner claims that the building’s is in perilous condition, according to NBC. They also called the proposed fix arbitrary and unproven.

In the end, Judge Karnow deferred further action until October.