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Condo owners in sinking Millennium Tower estimate homes worth $0

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The Millennium Tower at Mission and Fremont streets in San Francisco, Calif. Thursday, September 22, 2016. (Wesaam Al-Badry/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Multi-million dollar condos in the Millennium Tower may now be worth zilch.

More than 160 condo owners — including tech executives, sports figures and real estate investors – have filed property assessment appeals by the Sept. 15 deadline, claiming their condos are no longer worth what they paid for them.

The condo owners are claiming their home values have plummeted as the 58-story building has sunk and tilted beyond expectations, as first revealed last month in media reports.

The revelations have prompted a lawsuit by the condo owners against the developer and investigations by The City.

Additionally, earlier this week members of the Board of Supervisors voted to block millions of dollars for the second phase of the nearby multi-billion dollar Transbay Transit Center that would extend a Caltrain route to downtown and serve as a station for high-speed rail. The developer has blamed the sinking on the work around the transit center.

The Assessment Appeals Board has received 163 appeals from condo owners at the Millennium Tower at 301 Mission St., according to records the San Francisco Examiner obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Before the tower’s sinking was revealed, the condo values ranged from a high of $12.6 million to a low of $563,084, with 141 valued at more than $1 million.

In filing their appeals, residents must provide an estimate of the value of their condos today. Some stated figures as low as $0, $1 or $2. Others knocked off a million dollars or reduced the value by half.

“This is a big issue hitting The City,” said Alistair Gibson, executive secretary of the Assessment Appeals Board.

Under state law, the board has up to two years to hold a hearing on the appeals, but it’s unclear when they might be scheduled.

“This is a unique situation,” Gibson said. “I’m not sure how are going to handle it. We don’t know what’s going to happen with that building. There are going to be other issues involved.”

The values placed on the appeals by condo owners isn’t an exact science. Mary Velez, a taxpayer with Raimondo Pettit Group, represents a condo owned by former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, who had sold one of the two condos he owned several years ago. The one Montana still owns is valued at $2.8 million, but the appeal filed on his behalf argues the condo is now valued at $500,000.

“We didn’t have any guidance on what to put. We just put that as a number,” Velez said. “$0 might be a good number if the property can’t be sold at any price.” She noted that values could climb in subsequent years if the building is “repairable.”

“I’m sure nobody really knows the value,” Velez said.

Assessor Recorder Carmen Chu would be tasked to argue what value she believes the condos are worth during the hearings.

“We are waiting to see when they will be scheduled,” said Chu’s spokesperson Vivian Po.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Lee has said the building is currently safe. Separate studies are ongoing by both the developer Millennium Partners upon request of the Department of Building Inspection, and the homeowners association at San Francisco’s Millennium Tower, which on Monday began its own study to determine the cause of the sinking and possible fixes.

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