San Francisco's 58-story "leaning tower" is sinking fast

San Francisco's 419-apartment, 58-story luxury Millennium Tower has been sinking since at it opened in 2009, and now it's begun to lean alarmingly.

The owners of the multimillion-dollar apartments worry that they could lose their investments and their lives as there is no end to the subsidence in sight. The company that built the tower blames the city for pumping too much groundwater out of an adjacent building site for a transit hub, while residents point out that the building was sited on 60-90 foot pilings rather than the recommended 240 foot pilings down into the bedrock.

Millennium Partners, who built the tower, insist that everything is fine. Founding partner Chris Jeffries said, "We did this building the right way…The building is 100 percent safe."

"What concerns me most is the tilting," says Buttery, 76, a retired real estate developer. "Is it safe to stay here? For how long?"

Completed seven years ago, the tower so far has sunk 16 inches into the soft soil and landfill of San Francisco's crowded financial district. But it's not sinking evenly, which has created a 2-inch tilt at the base—and a roughly 6-inch lean at the top.

Tilting, sinking San Francisco high-rise raises alarm
[Jocelyn Gecker/Physorg]

(Image: an Francisco Millennium Tower July 2008, Hydrogen Iodide, PD)