There’s a new plan to stop Millennium Tower sinking — and settle lawsuits

All sides in the Millennium Tower debacle appear to be nearing an agreement on a $100 million-plus fix to stop the 58-story high-rise from sinking further — but at least part of the building’s tilt will probably remain.

“We’re very encouraged by the recent progress that has been made,” said P.J. Johnston, spokesman for Millennium Partners, the luxury condominium’s developer. “We look forward to working with the homeowners and the city to get this all completed as soon as possible.”

Doug Elmets, spokesman for the homeowners association, cautioned that nothing has been submitted to the city yet for review, but that residents are “encouraged by the ongoing progress.”

The latest plan calls for drilling piles into bedrock from the sidewalk on the building’s southwest corner. The proposal would be less extensive and intrusive than the plan floated in April, which called for drilling as many as 300 micro-piles to bedrock through the building’s concrete foundation.

The idea was to stabilize one side of the 58-story structure, then let the other side continue to sink until the building straightened itself. That plan, however, probably would have cost upward of $350 million — as much as it cost to build the tower in the first place.

The new plan by Ronald Hamburger, the structural engineer for the developer, is expected to be considerably less expensive and faster, and without as significant a disruption to the residents.

“Hopefully, it will take out some of the tilt and stop the building from moving entirely,” said one source familiar with the plan, but who wasn’t authorized to speak for the record.

The tower has sunk 18 inches and tilted 14 inches to the west since it opened in April 2009.

The building sits on a 10-foot-thick mat foundation, held in place by 950 reinforced concrete piles sunk 60 to 90 feet deep into clay and mud. They do not, however, reach bedrock.

The repair job is expected to take several months to complete. The timeline for getting started, however, will probably hinge on how fast the parties can get approval of an environmental impact report and the necessary building permits.

Read more on The San Francisco Chronicle

New SF hotels, WeWork-backed waterfront school among ideas for historic piers

Developer Simon Snellgrove has an idea: A new 65-room boutique hotel just south of the Ferry Building.

The problem: Hotels are illegal on Port of San Francisco land unless voters authorize them.

Snellgrove’s concept is one of 52 responses received by the port to revitalize 13 historic waterfront piers that dot the city’s scenic Embarcadero.

For the past three years, the port has sought public uses to bring new life for the piers, some of which were built over a century ago. The projects have big financial hurdles, requiring millions of dollars in renovations to withstand future earthquakes and sea level rise. But previous projects like the renovated Ferry Building and AT&T Park are a testament to the public’s love — and the lucrative business — of waterfront development.

The port received a diverse mix of ideas, including basketball and tennis courts, art galleries, an Italian Innovation Hub, and an International House of Prayer of Children. Boston Properties, the city’s biggest office owner and majority owner of Salesforce Tower, said it was open to operating nonprofit, maker and research space.

 

 

Read more on SFGate

 

 

 

 

More move to modular construction to mitigate costs, but it’s not the solution for every project.

In an effort to shorten construction timelines to cut down on costs and find creative ways around the shortage of skilled labor, multifamily developers have embraced the possibilities of modular construction.

But as with any new technology, there are still a lot of pitfalls and issues to work out before it becomes a solution for everyone — and it is not a solution for every project.

The move to modular is being driven by a combination of desperation and fear of the future, Panoramic Interests owner Patrick Kennedy said last week at Bisnow’s Multifamily Annual Conference NorCal in San Francisco.

“Conventional methods seem untenable in many circumstances,” he said.

Ultimately, construction costs will just get higher and more developers across markets will look at modular to address costs and the labor shortage.

 

 

Read more on Bisnow SF

 

 

 

‘Monster in the Mission’ housing proposal back in new form, but with same old opposition

The developer behind a long-stalled mixed-use apartment complex above the 16th Street BART Station in the Mission District has a new plan, but so far it is being met with the same staunch opposition as previous iterations.

Maximus Real Estate Partners, which owns the 57,000-square-foot site at the southeast corner of 16th and Mission streets, has filed a revised design that calls for two 10-story market-rate buildings — one on Mission Street and one on 16th Street — totaling 285 units, as well as 46 affordable units arranged in a row of five-story townhomes along Capp Street.

The affordable units would be given to the city, and the rents spun off from that building, roughly $1.15 million a year, could be used to help subsidize rents in other nearby buildings in the rapidly gentrifying area.

The revised project, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, also scales back some aspects of the project, which critics have long dubbed the “Monster in the Mission.”

The 163-unit mid-rise on Mission Street would be moved back 15 feet to expand the usable space on the BART plaza by 40 percent. The three buildings would each have a district architectural style — one green tile, one red brick and one wood — to break up the massing and better fit into the character of surrounding buildings, project architect Leo Chow said.

 

 

Read more on SFGate

 

 

SF considers ban on rent hikes for widows, widowers

Under existing state law, the death of a loved one may be followed by a mortal rent hike on a rent-controlled home.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Hillary Ronen announced that she will introduce a new law that would extend rent-control protections to bereaved family members—but only if California passes Proposition 10 in November.

Ronen’s office notes in a Tuesday press release:

As Costa Hawkins is currently written, landlords are free to raise the rent on a rent-controlled apartment to an unlimited amount when the “original occupant” no longer lives there.

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance is drafted to mirror that. So, any family members who were not original occupants—no matter how long they’ve lived in the home—are completely unprotected.

Ronen cites examples of Mission District residents who faced rent hikes of 300 to 700 percent after the deaths of their partners. She says that under the new legislation, which will be introduced at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the city would “extend the protections on rent-controlled units to spouses and family members” post-mortem.

Note that the announcement promises protections will extend to “nontraditional families” including domestic partners.

Under Ronen’s proposal, bereaved partners would only need to illustrate at least two years of occupancy to dodge a post-funeral rent hike.

 

 

Read more on Curbed SF

 

 

Bay Area tops U.S. in new office space, but lags in housing starts

 The Bay Area is a hot place to build cubicles, conference rooms, and office suites. But don’t look for as many hammers pounding out new homes, condos, and apartments.

The region is expected to open 18.2 million square feet of office space in 2018 — tops in the nation and more than New York City and Dallas combined — while home, condo and apartment building has grown only modestly.

More work space, more jobs and more people chasing a limited supply of homes is expected to add more steam to the pressure cooker of the Bay Area housing market.

“It’s encouraging that so many respected employers are investing in Bay Area jobs and immigration growth” said Carl Guardino, CEO of the business-backed Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “But we all recognize that jobs need a place to go home and sleep at night.”

The region created six times as many jobs as housing units between 2010 and 2015, according to a study by the leadership group and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The increased housing pressure has forced lower-income workers out of the region at much faster rates than higher paid workers, even as jobs go unfilled.

The run up in commercial development is led by major office openings in the South Bay, according to a survey from real estate data company Yardi Matrix. The big projects in 2018 include the official, complete opening of the 2.9 million square foot Apple Park in Cupertino, Park Tower at Transbay and The Exchange on 16th in San Francisco totaling 1.5 million square feet, and Facebook’s MPK 21, a half-million-square-foot campus designed by Frank Gehry in Menlo Park.

Other major developments underway include the Voyager property developed by Nvidia in Santa Clara, Microsoft and Google projects in Mountain View, the Stoneridge Mall Road project in Pleasanton, and Moffett Towers in Sunnyvale, according to Yardi Matrix.

The real estate data firm estimates that commercial openings in Santa Clara County are up 6.5 percent over the same period last year. The San Francisco and Oakland metro has seen three times as much commercial space open up this year compared to last year.

 

 

Read more on The Mercury News

 

 

San Francisco startup to build 270-unit ground up development in SoMa as part of co-living push

Starcity, a co-living development startup that is known for building “dorm living for adults,” is planning to erect a 270-unit building dubbed “Minna” in SoMa as part of its latest development push.

It also is eyeing a downtown San Jose property three blocks from Caltrain for more than 750 units.

Starcity’s model of private rooms paired with shared spaces can boost the number of units or rooms in an apartment project threefold, the company said in a statement Wednesday morning. Along with ground-up developments, the company converts and renovates defunct or underused commercial spaces into communal living spaces geared toward a middle-income demographic squeezed by high housing prices.

The San Francisco-based housing developer said Wednesday that 50 percent of the units will be affordable in the project at Minna & 5th Streets. Starcity currently has four San Francisco properties it owns and operates, with nine more in the pipeline.

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

How will S.F.’s tallest buildings fare in the next big earthquake? Report expresses concerns

San Francisco’s tall buildings may be at risk of damage during the next big earthquake, a study released by research nonprofit Applied Technology Council (ATC) last week warns.

The 36-page report outlines vulnerability concerns over outdated building standards and provides a strategy for proactive safety checks.

The study’s release comes just days after cracks were found in two steel beams of San Francisco’s newly minted $2.2 billion Transbay Transit Center, and as Millennium Tower next door continues to sink and tilt. Last year, the late Mayor Ed Lee commissioned the report, which was prepared by a group of engineers.

The report probed the city’s 156 tallest buildings — either constructed or permitted for construction — that are at least 240 feet high, primarily located in San Francisco’s Financial District. About 60 percent of these buildings house business and office space, while the rest are zoned residential.

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

2nd crack at SF Transbay Transit Center — to stay closed through next week

San Francisco’s new Transbay Transit Center will remain closed at least through the end of next week, officials said Wednesday, after yet another cracked beam was discovered during an overnight safety inspection.

The $2.2 billion hub for buses and eventually trains, which opened just last month as the flashy centerpiece of city infrastructure, was closed abruptly Tuesday afternoon after a fissure was spotted in a beam that helps hold up the sprawling complex.

The initial tear runs about 2½ feet long and 4 inches deep through the bottom of a 60-foot-long beam that supports both the center’s celebrated rooftop park above and a bus deck below, officials said. The beam is located over Fremont Street, between Mission and Howard streets. The second crack is in a parallel steel beam that also crosses Fremont Street. It was described as slightly smaller.

Representatives of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which built and operates the transit center, said Wednesday they didn’t know the causes of the cracks, but they remained concerned about the potential for the beams to fail. Fremont Street, which passes under the center, also is scheduled to stay closed through Oct. 5.

“We will not open the transit center or Fremont Street until we are certain the issue is 100 percent rectified,” said Mark Zabaneh, executive director of the TJPA.

 

Read more on San Francisco Chronicle

 

 

SF considers barring offices from Union Square ground floor

Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s plan would reserve shopping district spaces for retail.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Aaron Peskin made a bid to squeeze big-ticket office space out of the Union Square shopping district, introducing new legislation that would reserve ground floor space in Union Square for retail establishments.

“Office space is in high demand and frankly out competes retail and threatens those spaces currently occupied by retailers,” said Peskin, citing the plight not just of shopping hubs around Union Square but also the likes of “tailors, design professionals, and life sciences.”

 

 

Read more on Curbed SF