Special Legislation Could Make Exception for Buildings Casting Shadows on Boston Common

Since 1990, there’s been a law on the books aimed at protecting the Boston Common while stopping the construction of buildings that would cast shadows on the park.

But under special legislation filed with the Boston City Council on Monday, an exception could be made for the redevelopment of the city-owned Winthrop Square garage into the proposed Millennium Partners tower.

The skyscraper would stand at 775-feet and block sunlight from hitting the park during certain hours of the day.

“The Boston City Council will consider a home rule petition that asks the state legislature to grant relief from the state law that prohibits the shadow,” said Boston Planning and Development Agency Director Brian Golden.

Golden says this project has been singled out because the city stands to get $153 million dollars from the sale that would go toward improvements at the city’s parks and low incoming housing.

“We’re willing to identify one single parcel for shadow relief so that we can tap those benefits,” Golden said.

Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Liz Vizza says while they understand the benefits of redevelopment, they are wary about changing a law that has protected the parks for so long.

“We want to see what can be done to minimize the intrusion of this shadow, minimize the impact and maximize the protections for the parks moving forward,” Vizza said.

Reviews were mixed from people on the Common itself.

“I think just because it’s such an open space and there’s not really a lot of parks in downtown Boston, there shouldn’t really have to be a shadow cast over this park,” Jane Buckley of Boston said.

“I think it might not be terrible because if it’s something that would add to the economy, would bring money to Boston, it’s not a terrible thing,” Jordan Casey of Boston said.

A public hearing is scheduled to be held sometime within the next two weeks, then the city council will take a vote on the matter.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has said he would sign off on it, but it would also need approval from the state legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker.

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