Residents who fled flooded tower in SF won’t return for the holidays

Landlord Hines tells tenants at luxe apartment highrise that repairs will run into next year

Tenants Who Fled Flooded Tower in SF Won’t Return This Year
Hines’ Jeffrey Hines and Laura Hines-Pierce with 33 Tehama (Hines, Dead.rabbit/CC BY-SA 4.0/via Wikimedia Commons)

The more than 400 residents displaced by floods from a Hines-owned apartment tower in San Francisco won’t be at home for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas.

The Houston-based developer told tenants they couldn’t return this year to their apartments at 33 Tehama Street in South of Market, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The residents were forced to evacuate the 35-story luxury tower after two summer floods last year sent more than 20,000 gallons of water cascading through the building. 

Hines has worked 17 months to repair the damage caused by a water main failure atop the 403-unit highrise. 

The firm first told residents they could return to their homes a year ago. It then informed them they could reoccupy the building in the latter half of this year.  Now their homecoming has been pushed into next year.

Hines said the city will make a final inspection of the building’s restoration in December. It would then have “more clarity about the return process.”

“We appreciate your ongoing patience,” Hines told residents in an email. “Please know that we are making every effort to provide as much certainty as possible around schedules and return timing.

“We are focused on preparing for your return and we look forward to welcoming you home.”

Permits issued by the city Department of Building Inspection last year suggest the cost of repairs to common areas and 93 water-damaged apartments is more than $7 million. 

It’s not known how many residents plan to return. Tenants were initially upset about Hines’ dispatches during and after the floods. Last fall, residents filed a second lawsuit, alleging unfair business practices. 

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The initial lawsuit alleged chronic mismanagement and deception on the part of Hines. Tenants said building managers knew the building had plumbing problems and failed to fix them. They sued for negligence, tenants’ rights and violations of health and safety codes.

Both suits seek unspecified damages caused by bursting water pipes on the 35th floor in June and August of last year, flooding hallways and apartments on multiple floors below.

With little time to grab pets or belongings, tenants were sent scrambling to nearby hotels. The building was red-tagged by city officials and renters haven’t returned since.

A Hines representative denied all of the allegations in both legal complaints, saying the company has “worked tirelessly to repair the building.”

Hines said residents will have 45 days to return once their apartments become available for occupancy.

In the next few weeks, the firm will work on “needed upgrades and necessary repairs to the entrance, lobby area, amenity floors and other restoration tasks,” the developer said. 

“We are optimistic the inspections will run smoothly and on schedule as the last step in getting you back into your home,” Hines said in its email to residents.

Hines, a global real estate powerhouse, and Atlanta-based Investco, developed 33 Tehama in 2018. The green glass tower, scored with balconies on either side, was designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, with Lendlease Group serving as the general contractor.

— Dana Bartholomew

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