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Winthrop Square Garage tower further in doubt as key official balks

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‘Great damage to historic buildings’

Citing the potential for “great damage to historic buildings” in downtown Boston, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin is urging lawmakers to delay a pivotal vote regarding what would be New England’s tallest primarily residential tower.

Developer Millennium Partners wants to pay Boston $153 million to build a 775-foot tower on the site of the city-owned Winthrop Square Garage at 240 Devonshire Street.

The project has encountered vociferous opposition, including from Galvin, due to the potential for shadows that the tower would cast over landmarks such as Boston Common, the Public Garden, and the State House.

There are decades-old state laws prohibiting shadows over such areas at certain times, and Millennium Partners needs those laws amended to move forward.

In early June—about a month ago—it looked as if the city (which really wants the tower because of the money), the state, and various interested parties had reached a deal to move the tower forward. Critics of the project, too, had seemed to come around to it—in exchange for sizable investment in the upkeep of nearby parkland.

Galvin’s opposition, in the form of a letter to state lawmakers yesterday, casts further uncertainty over the whole affair, though.

The Massachusetts Historical Commission that he controls already could delay the project, effectively croaking it if doesn’t get underway during the current financing and real estate climate.

Now, a delay on Beacon Hill could also complicate things. Stay tuned.