'Leaning Tower of San Francisco' Saga Continues

Millennium Tower has already sunk 16 inches—and could go as deep as 30
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2016 8:52 AM CDT
Blame Game Heats Up on SF's Sinking Skyscraper
Problems continue for the "Leaning Tower of San Francisco."   (Mike Kepka/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

City officials are scrambling, apartment owners are organizing, and civil engineering experts are continuing to fret in the ongoing saga of San Francisco's Millennium Tower. The 58-story reinforced-concrete skyscraper has already sunk 16 inches and leaned a few inches closer to a nearby building since it was built seven years ago. Per the New York Times, blame for the problem (depending on who you talk to) is being assigned to everything from "very challenging" soil conditions and a "deficient" foundation—Business Insider notes the building was anchored 80 feet into packed sand rather than to bedrock 200 feet down—to lack of city oversight and adjacent digging and groundwater removal. All of which is worrisome in a metropolitan area that lies in a major earthquake zone.

Potential buyers had been warned by developers in 2009 that some aesthetic elements of the building, like the landscaping and color of the stone hallways, were subject to change, but they say they had no clue the building had already sunk 8 inches by the time construction had finished. Jerry Dodson, who paid $2.1 million for his 42nd-floor apartment, says sewage lines and elevators are at risk of malfunctioning with any further leaning or sinkage—and it's anticipated the building could sink as much as 30 inches, CBS San Francisco notes. Dodson's wife reveals one possible solution an engineer has suggested: removing the top 20 floors of the building to reduce its weight. The developer insists the tower is still safe, per CNBC. (Elsewhere in San Francisco, the "East Bay walls" remain an intriguing puzzle.)

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