- Fortis Property Group’s 58-story luxury Manhattan condo high-rise is leaning, according to a lawsuit filed by former construction manager Pizzarotti LLC. The contractor said work should be halted until a safe building redesign can be issued and in the meantime is suing to recover the amounts it claims Fortis owes.
- Pizzarotti claims that, prior to its joining the project in 2015, a geotechnical consultant recommended Fortis use a foundation design that included deep piles driven into bedrock but that Fortis went with an alternative system to save money. This, the contractor alleges, has resulted in a possibly unsafe structure that is leaning three inches to the north. The suit claims that this could affect the building’s future elevator operations, cause waterproofing problems and breaks in windows and result in facade components falling to the street below.
- In addition to the injunction stopping work on the project and claims for extra costs and unpaid bills, Pizzarotti also wants the court to determine that its contract with Fortis has been properly terminated.
A Fortis spokesman told the Commercial Observer that Pizzarotti’s claims are “patently false,” and that the company defaulted on its contract. Fortis also said the leaning issue was not a safety hazard and that a redesign of the facade by the new contractor, Ray Builders, was the only action required to resolve what it characterized as an “alignment issue.”
New York State Supreme Court documents include a copy of a review conducted by engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti. In the report, Thornton Tomasetti said …"critical omissions in the original design, coupled with the current failure to provide a comprehensive design solution that takes into account the movement experienced to date, as well as the movement that is anticipated to continue in the future, presents considerable operational, service and safety concerns.”
Building a stable structure on top of soft soil can be a challenge, as the developer and residents of the Millennium Tower condo building in San Francisco discovered.
The Millennium Tower has sunk more than 16 inches since it opened a decade ago and is reportedly leaning about 14 inches. The developers have pointed the finger of blame at the Transbay Joint Powers Authority’s $2.2 billion transit center and the dewatering that took place during its construction. But, like the Seaport Residences, Millennium chose not to employ a foundation that used piles to anchor the structure into bedrock. There have been a few proposed fixes, the most recent of which is a $100 million “perimeter pile upgrade.” To limit future movement, 52 steel-and-concrete piles — each measuring 24 inches in diameter and weighing 140,000 pounds — would be drilled into the bedrock 250 feet below the tower along two sides of the building.