Sound Off: Millennium Tower’s affect on Bay Area high-rise real …

A: The immediate effect is it may take more time and money to get projects through the city for new developments which is already a cumbersome and expensive process at best.. Those costs, unfortunately, will be passed through to the consumer. The longer term effects are the importance for everyone involved to accept they share culpability and to devise a solid plan to prevent this type of catastrophic event from happening again. We need a balance between cost-effective and sound construction methods to maintain viable commercial and residential structures.

Developers and contractors need to be held to the highest standard of design and construction. City employees from the Planning Department to on-site inspectors must be accountable for their review process. It is critical that they oversee all aspects of approval of the project through to its completion. In the past, developers and architects typically thought only in terms of their own ventures and didn’t necessarily anticipate the impact their project would have on surrounding areas.

The Millenium Tower issues have changed that forever as we acknowledge the importance of a holistic approach to overall community development. City powers-that-be must adopt a more global view of development and the impact one project can have on an area and community. Everyone involved in further development of San Francisco and other Bay Area communities must realize and accept the importance of their roles in keeping our communities safe to maintain the integrity of its structures and the confidence of its citizens.

Jill Gumina, Hill Co. Real Estate, (415) 265-1717,

A: The biggest impact from the Millennium controversy will be an increase from the public in due diligence of construction methods, existing conditions and seismic safety in high-rise buildings. Buyers, rightly so, will ask more questions about safety methods implemented by developers in land fill areas such as this.

Not every building is built the same, however. According to an article published in 2006 by Carl Nolte, condos at One Rincon incorporated structural concepts that had never been tried before. For example, there’s steel “hands” at the core of the building with concrete poured on steel. Building added V-shaped devices also in steel and reinforced concrete to prevent buckling. They took it a step further; on top of the building are two water tanks holding about 100,000 gallons. Due to high winds in the area, tanks are supposed to counter the sway of the building.

Not surprisingly, 181 Fremont, the latest offering in high-end residential condos, is heavily promoting their safety measurements.

They recently released the following, which can also be found on their website; “The building features the deepest caissons of any residential tower in the city, burrowing 260 feet into the bedrock. The structural engineers at Arup had to think outside of the box, literally. They devised an ingenious high strength steel exoskeleton structural system that behaves like a giant shock absorber whenever there is seismic activity underfoot. A series of viscous dampers allow for a completely elastic superstructure, with plumbing and electrical lines given enough flexibility to move without disruption.”

What transpired at the Millennium Towers will arm buyers with the right questions to ask developers and their sales team as they consider a high-rise lifestyle. And this is always a good thing.

Par Hanji, Paragon Real Estate Group, (415) 307-5110,

A: The upscale residential building, Millennium Tower in downtown San Francisco, has been in the media regularly for the past several months. The latest news is that it has tilted two and half more inches in just the first half of this year, according to new monitoring data. The high-rise has sunk 17 inches at its lowest point as reported by NBC on July 18, 2017. This specific condominium project has elevated awareness among potential buyers around the importance of structural design and ensuring foundations are bedrock-solid. Buyers and investors in new high-rise projects would be wise to have an expert investigate the structural integrity of a prospective building’s design and location, as well as have specific points to discuss and document with a seller. Buyers want to make sure they do not find themselves in the situation Millennium Tower owners are now dealing with. With the ongoing legal actions regarding the settling issues of the Millennium Tower, there have been a few units on the market. I anticipate sales of units in the building will be challenging until the issues are resolved.

Meghan Duffy, McGuire Real Estate, (415)652-0677,

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