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Proposed Winthrop Square tower’s shadows cast doubt on 750-foot plan

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It’s supposed to be Boston’s tallest residential building

Plans to plunk a 750-foot, 55-story tower where the city-owned Winthrop Square Garage now looms have been cast into doubt. Why? Because of concerns over the shadows that the building—the tallest primarily residential one in the city—might throw over the Public Garden and the Common.

Specifically, some lawmakers and locals are upset that the years-long negotiations over the sale of the site to developer Millennium Partners, and that developer’s plans for the tower, did not include much discussion about the potential shadows.

Such shadows lasting more than 60 minutes daily are not allowed under state law; and therefore the tower as currently imagined would require major legal changes at the state and city level to advance. Per Tim Logan in the Globe:

[The Boston Planning & Development Agency] and Millennium have released few details, but have acknowledged that preliminary building models show shadows for as long as 90 minutes in the morning during certain times of the year, reaching as far as the edge of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, around three-quarters of a mile away.

There are a couple of ways forward on the development. One would involve changes to the tower’s design, but that might not be feasible because it has to be a certain size with a certain number of condos, etc., to make it financially worthwhile for Millennium. Another way forward would be to tweak the shadows law.

But that could take months, and the timeline’s pretty tight on this one. Over to Logan again: “The agency contract with Millennium, which a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh said should be signed within a few weeks, gives city officials 10 months to get shadow law changes approved. If they don’t, city officials face the prospect of giving back to Millennium a $10 million deposit.”

Stay tuned.