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Another San Francisco building is sinking

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High-rise at 25 Jessie Street in decline

Buildings sink; that’s part of their design, as the great weight of modern high-rises inevitably leads to some settling as years go by.

But when buildings sink in San Francisco, anxieties tend to rise, thanks to the inescapable example of the luxe but leaning Millennium Tower, now infamous the world over for the fracas over its foundations.

And it seems that a complimentary example comes by way of another nearby high-rise, which the San Francisco Chronicle’s urban design critic John King reports is also showing a slouch.

King writes:

The building in question is 25 Jessie St., an 18-story tower from the early 1980s that has such a tall base that it peaks at 284 feet. [...]

Since October 2016 the two dozen or so columns supporting 25 Jessie had settled by no more than three-eighths of an inch. The biggest shift between two adjacent columns is one-eighth of an inch, well under the amount that would cause any “distress, serviceability or life safety concerns,” according to the monitoring report done for the developer by Nabih Youssef Associates.

The Department of Building Inspection records that in February of this year, a concerned observer filed a complaint about 25 Jessie, consisting entirely of: “THIS BUILDING IS SINKING! LOOK AT IT!!! Construction next door.”

The construction is the ongoing elevation of Oceanwide Center, which when complete will include San Francisco’s second tallest building, just across the street from Millennium Tower.

25 Jessie Street.
Photo by Brock Keeling

San Francisco Building Inspector Fergal Clancy visited the site less than a week later, noting in subsequent reports, “During these site visits there is nothing out of the ordinary that would raise concerns of any settlement.”

And in March, Clancy referred to a report by structural engineers called in to assess the tower, commenting that, “Based on my review on Nabih Youssef’s report, I do concur that the differential settlement of 1/8 inch is small in comparison with previous evaluation and will not have significant distress or life safety concerns on the building.”

While indeed 25 Jessie is sinking, it’s only dropping a little bit; it’s a 36-year-old building and a little sinking is to be expected no matter what.

Much ado about nothing then? Well, King cautions that “Oceanwide Center won’t be completed until 2021. There’s a long way to go.”

If the nearby construction has accelerated settling at 25 Jessie Street, there will be plenty of opportunity to observe any potential further effects as the project moves along.

A scale model of the Oceanwide Center tower.
A scale model of the Oceanwide Center tower.
Photo by Adam L Brinklow