City seeks exemption to allow shadow cast by Winthrop Square tower

The Boston Globe | By Tim Logan
January 19, 2017

The skyscraper that Millennium Partners has proposed for Winthrop Square could be the last new building to cast a shadow on Boston Common, under a plan being floated by city officials to win support for the 775-foot tower.

The Walsh administration is willing to write tougher rules restricting the size of shadows that new buildings can cast on Boston Common, as long as there’s an exemption for Winthrop Square, said Brian Golden, director of the Boston Planning & Development Agency. That could effectively cap the height of future buildings in parts of Downtown Crossing.

The deal could allow the city to reap the $153 million that Millennium is offering to pay for rights to build on the site of the defunct parking garage. And, Golden said, it could ease worries from neighbors and parks advocates that the Winthrop Square Tower would be just the first of several to darken the historic park.

“We think this is a meaningful, concrete step to address those concerns,” Golden said. “And it yields $153 million for the City of Boston.”
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A 1990 state law governing shadows on the Common created a “shadow bank,’’ limiting the shade cast in the historic park by future buildings to about an acre. The Ritz-Carlton on Avery Street, also built by Millennium, used about three-fourths of the available shadow bank when it was built in 2001. About a quarter acre remains available.

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