- Millennium Tower is a skyscraper in San Francisco that is sinking and leaning.
- Though the building is safe to occupy, an investigation found that gaps in the walls may present risks in the event of a fire.
- San Francisco city building inspectors have issued a violation notice against Millennium Tower, prompting it to provide a fix.
San Francisco city building inspectors have issued a violation notice against Millennium Tower, the city’s leaning, sinking luxury skyscraper, because of an apparent fire safety risk.
The December 2017 notice cites “a breach in the fire and smoke barrier” and other evidence that suggests “the issue may be more widespread,” NBC Bay Area reported on Thursday.
Millennium Tower is a luxury residential high-rise that has sunk 17 inches and tilted 14 inches since it was completed in 2008. Though an inspection by the city found it’s safe to occupy, the situation has sparked a flurry of lawsuits and an exodus from the building by many residents.
Last year, a report commissioned by the Millennium Homeowners Association warned there may be unseen safety issues at the building. Architectural engineering firm, Allana, Buick and Bers, had found gaps in the walls of one unit that could present risks in the event of a fire.
Paula Pretlow and several other homeowners had complained of unexplained odours permeating their luxury units. Consultants from Allana, Buick and Bers burrowed holes through several apartment walls in Pretlow’s unit and set off smoke bombs below. They found that smoke rose through openings surrounding pipes and ducts in the walls. Typically, gaps like these are sealed with fire-resistant caulking to make sure fires are contained on the floor where they start.
If a small fire was to break out in the unit below where Pretlow lives, the flames could more easily spread to her condo or cause smoke damage in the walls, according to NBC Bay Area.
The report only pertained to the unit owned by Pretlow, though others could be susceptible.
Since the report, the tower’s developer and city building inspectors have not addressed the fire safety warning. But an investigation from NBC Bay Area provided new details from the report in December, which appears to have prompted action. (NBC Bay Area found that some information was redacted from the report provided to homeowners.)
The violation notice forces the developer, Millennium Partners, to either find a different expert who can show the building is fire-safe, or provide a fix. It has until January 19 to respond.
The situation at Millennium Tower is likely to get worse before it gets better. Engineers have estimated the building will continue to sink at a rate of about one-inch per year.
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