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Boston’s shadow bank may decide region’s tallest residential tower

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Up to 775 feet in Winthrop Square

Boston officials want to tap into a so-called shadow bank to allow for the construction of what would be the tallest primarily residential tower in the region.

Developer Millennium Partners wants to build the spire in place of downtown Boston’s shuttered Winthrop Square Garage to as high as 775 feet. It would include 300 condos as well as 14 floors of office space. And the city would get $153 million from the sale of the development rights to the garage.

The proposed tower, however, faces challenges, including from transportation officials over its potential impact on flight paths into and out of Logan and from those concerned about its potential shadows over the Boston Common and the Public Garden.

To get around the latter concern, Millennium Partners, with the city’s blessing, hopes to tap the shadow bank that dates from 1990.

It works like so: In 1990, the state created the bank to limit to about 1 acre the shade cast on the Common by future buildings. Millennium Partners’ Ritz-Carlton consumed about three-fourths of that acre in 2001. The Winthrop Square tower would consume some of the rest.

To cushion that blow a bit, the city would in turn draft even more stringent rules for the heights of future towers—so long as the state first exempts Winthrop Square via the up-to-0.25-acre withdrawal from the shadow bank.

It’s all still rather up in the air (including the Logan concerns), but Millennium wants to start construction by this time next year. Stay tuned.