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Winthrop Square tower developer not keen on cutting height

Shadows or not

One of the biggest and more consequential (and controversial) developments pending in Boston right now is that of the redevelopment of the city-owned Winthrop Square Garage into what would be the region’s tallest primarily residential building.

The main bone of contention re: the development is its height, which will likely stretch to 775 feet. That has raised concerns about potential shadows that the tower might cast on the Common and the Public Garden (there are laws against that, don’t ya know?).

We asked developer Millennium Partners, through a representative, to explain its position as talks with the city and the state about a possible exemption to the shadow laws continue.

The biggest takeaway seems to be the answer to question 2 here: The height stays.


The project is out of their hands right now, no? And up to the state for the variance regarding the shadows?

Currently, Millennium is working through the Article 80 process with the city, which includes, but is not limited to, review of a project's impacts on transportation, public realm, the environment, and historic resources.

Regarding the shadow laws: Any project on the site over 365 feet would require amendments to the shadow laws. The issue of the shadow is not one that we dismiss lightly; however, we believe the public benefits, including substantial economic benefits to the city, would warrant amending the state shadow law.

From our thorough study, we have determined over the course of the year an average new shadow duration of 36 minutes on Boston Common (always before 9:25 in the morning) and five minutes on the Public Garden (always before 8 a.m.).

Is Millennium considering cutting the height?

No. We feel this project was holistically designed at its optimum size in response to achieving the goals that the city required for this public asset.

How long can they wait on an exception to the shadows laws? When do they need a green-light on construction by?

If we’re able to get all of our permits, we’ll start construction about this time next year.