The homeowners association of the sinking, tilting Millennium Tower filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday seeking damages exceeding $200 million to pay for repairs.
The suit in San Francisco Superior Court names a long list of defendants: Developer Millennium Partners and its executives, the tower’s general contractor Webcor, tower architect Handel, engineering firms Treadwell & Rollo, Langan, DeSimone Consulting Engineers, and Arup, as well as the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA).
As the Business Times reported in 2013, Millennium Tower generated more than $750 million in sales, making it one of the most valuable towers on the West Coast. The damages sought are over a quarter of the tower’s value at the time.
The suit alleges that both Millennium Partners, consultants and the TJPA, which is building the adjacent Transbay Transit Center, knew that the tower was sinking and tilting and deliberately withheld that information from homeowners. The suit alleges negligent and fraudulent misrepresentations, breach of fiduciary duty and other civil violations. It calls for a jury trial.
The HOA is the only entity that can seek money to pay for repairs for the tower, said Daniel Petrocelli of O’Melveny, the lead counsel for the HOA.
“This is the only case that exists for the purpose of securing all the money that it will take to fix the building and fix it permanently, once and for all,” he said at a press conference Wednesday.
Mediation between the developer and HOA is also ongoing, said Petrocelli.
Another homeowner group that includes Jerry Dodsen filed its own separate lawsuit in January. San Francisco’s city attorney and developer Millennium Partners have also taken legal action. Millennium Partners blamed the TJPA’s nearby construction activity for the tower’s sinking, including the alleged failure of a wall separating the transit project from the Millennium Tower foundation.
“We have been working cooperatively with the homeowners association at 301 Mission St. for the past six months to assess the cause and extent of the settlement of the building. We now know that TJPA’s reckless behavior caused excessive settlement at 301 Mission,” said P.J. Johnston, a spokesman for Millennium Partners.
“Our top priority has always been to achieve a scientifically sound and reliable remedy. We are disappointed and puzzled that the HOA board now is shifting gears to a disruptive strategy that leaves us no choice but to defend ourselves against false claims. The factual allegations in the Complaint are false, and we look forward to refuting them,” said Johnston.
A TJPA spokesman declined to comment and referred to previous statements denying responsibility for the tilting of the tower.
Handel Architects said in a statement, “The settlement problems associated with 301 Mission are 100 percent related to geotechnical issues, which are entirely outside the realm of our contract and our professional responsibility. To report otherwise is to completely misrepresent the duties and responsibilities of the project architect.”
The other defendants couldn’t immediately be reached.
Petrocelli said that methods to permanently fix the tower were being studied, but no final solution had been determined.
Construction experts have suggested some possible solutions: adding piles to the base of the building, soil remediation with concrete or adding a structure to counterbalance the tower’s lean, as Iowa State University architectural design professor Tom Leslie wrote last year.
Millennium Partners is also building the Mexican Museum tower with 190 condos at 706 Mission St. That project’s foundation is going to bedrock, something that Millennium Tower wasn’t required to do.