SF’s Millennium Tower Sinking Rapidly, as Seen from Space

Millennium Tower (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

San Francisco’s Millennium Tower is sinking at an alarming rate, according to satellite analysis taken from outer space.

The 58-story “game of Jenga” has been dubbed the “Leaning Tower of San Francisco” because it is tilting two inches to the northwest. It has reportedly sunk about 16 inches into landfill since it was first opened in 2009.

“What can be concluded from our data, is that the Millennium Tower is sinking at a steady rate,” Petar Marinkovic, founder and chief scientist of PPO Labs — which analyzed the satellite’s radar imagery for the ESA along with Norway-based research institute Norut — told the Associated Press.

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority, a city agency, reportedly blamed the towers’ “inadequate foundation” for the sinking and tilting.

According to the AP, engineers have estimated the building is sinking at a rate of about one inch per year, but that rate has almost doubled, according to data collected between April 2015 and September 2016 by the Sentinel-1 twin satellites.

The AP further notes that the Sentinel-1 study was not focused on Millennium Tower, but that it is part of a larger mission by the European Space Agency (ESA), which is tracking urban ground movement around the world.

However, due to the San Francisco Bay Area’s proximity to the Hayward Fault — making it prone to earthquakes, including the impending “big one” — the ESA decided to track and observe the area, including the Millennium Tower.

Despite numerous lawsuits against the building’s developer, and involving the City of San Francisco, the developer, Millennium Partners, reportedly insists Millennium Towers is safe for occupants and suggests that it could withstand an earthquake. The apartments are in the multi-million dollar range.

According to the San Francisco Business Journal, a UC Berkeley engineer, Jack Moehle, and his colleague, Hardip Pennu, who originally certified the tower’s design as structurally sound, were subpoenaed by San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin on Tuesday after refusing to testify.

SF Curbed produced an article on several units available for purchase in the Millennium Towers this past August. The units are going for up to $3.8 million.

New information about the sinking tower was met with mixed reactions over social media:

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz



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