Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has signed a bill allowing construction of a skyscraper that would cast shadows on two of America's most treasured parks — Boston Common and the neighboring Public Garden.
The Boston Globe reports the Republican governor signed the legislation Friday, clearing the way for a 691-foot tower on city-owned property. The developers offered to pay Boston $153 million for the parcel.
The new law changes quarter-century-old rules banning buildings from casting shadows over historic parks. Supporters of the rules say they were crucial in preservation efforts.
The development firm Millennium Partners needed the rule changes to build the tower, which still needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration because of its height.
The organization Friends of the Public Garden issued a statement after news of the skyscraper's construction go-ahead:
"We continue to have fundamental concerns about the precedent a one-time exemption from the state’s Shadow Laws will set, but we also must acknowledge that the City Council and the Legislature have spoken with clear voices in favor of the home rule petition that will allow this project to go forward. Throughout this process, we sought to minimize the amount of shadow this building will cast and mitigate its impact, and will continue to be actively involved in the ongoing environmental and Article 80 reviews as the final aspects of this building are decided."
Joe Larkin from Millennium Partners also released a statement in response to the governor's signing:
"On behalf of the broad coalition of supporters who have embraced the Winthrop Square project and the many benefits it will bring to the people and the City of Boston, we are extremely appreciative that the legislature passed and Governor Baker signed the bill that allows the project to move forward to the next phase of approvals. We wish to express our gratitude to all the public officials who learned about this transformative project and said yes, and in particular to Mayor Walsh, whose tireless efforts on behalf of our City made this law’s passage possible."
Brian Golden, Director of the Boston Planning & Development Agency, issued a statement as well:
"We thank the Legislature and Governor Baker for supporting House Bill 3749, 'An Act protecting sunlight and promoting economic development in the City of Boston.' This common sense change will better protect the Boston Common and Boston Public Garden for years to come while allowing a project that will generate hundreds of millions of dollars for Boston’s neighborhoods, parks and public housing to move forward. We look forward to continuing to work with the many community stakeholders and local legislators as this project moves through the Article 80 process."
The skyscraper would cast shadows on the two parks on many early mornings.