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Winthrop Square Garage tower closes in on key City Council approval

Next stop: Beacon Hill

Following an often contentious public airing on April 24, Mayor Marty Walsh appears to have enough City Council votes to move his request for a revision to a state law governing shadows that new Boston developments cast on certain areas past the municipal chamber and on to the Massachusetts legislature.

Walsh is seeking the change to allow for the construction of a tower in place of the city-owned Winthrop Square Garage at 240 Devonshire Street.

More to the point, Walsh wants the revision so that the city can collect $153 million from tower developer Millennium Partners in exchange for the garage.

The proposed 775-foot tower, which would be the tallest primarily residential building in New England, has encountered vociferous opposition because of the shadows it would cast at certain times over the Boston Common and the Public Garden. See below.

BPDA/Boston Globe

The Boston Planning & Development Agency probably knew about the potential shadows during a review of the project, but didn’t draw attention to them. And! Some critics are peeved that Walsh wants to revise the law one time only—for the Winthrop Square Garage tower—and then, if anything, strengthen it regarding future projects.

The developer and the city have countered that the revision is worth it. The tower would provide a financial windfall to the city as well as ongoing economic benefits—not least of all more housing in a Boston that sorely needs it, whatever the prices.

A City Council vote could come as soon as April 26. Stay tuned.