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Downtown Boston's 171 Tremont Street Tower Scaled Back Yet Again

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Latest shrinkage designed to assuage concerns about shadows

Concerns over shadows have long, well, shadowed plans to plunk a luxury condo building at 171 Tremont Street in downtown Boston. Specifically, opponents worry the spire would toss artificial shade on the Boston Common across the street.

This opposition drove developer Maurice Dabbah to trim his original plan for a 355-foot, 32-story tower to 255 feet and 20 stories. Now, the Globe's Jon Chesto reports that the would-be tower has shrunk yet again: to 235 feet and 19 stories (containing 17 condos and a first-floor lobby). For those counting along at home, that's 120 feet shorter than originally planned.

Architect Elkus Manfredi also redesigned the top floors to have them scale back like steps. This way, the building will match the angle of the sun in a "worst-case scenario," an executive at the architecture firm told Chesto.

Dubbah plans to file the revised proposal with the city sometime this month. It remains to be seen whether the second round of shrinkage assuages critics. The Midtown Cultural District Residents' Association has yet to weigh in on the project, for instance.

Interestingly, whatever 171 Tremont's height, its footprint remains tiny by Boston standards. The tower would be only 50 feet wide and would go up on a site that is about one-tenth of an acre. That site is currently used as a sales office for Downtown Crossing's Millennium Tower, which casts shadows wherever it dang well pleases.