Millennium Partners Break Ground on Winthrop Center

Millennium Partners broke ground Wednesday, Oct. 24, on the approximately $1.35 billion Winthrop Center, which at 691-feet will be the fourth tallest building in the city and the tallest structure in Downtown Crossing when it opens in 2022.

The skyscraper will be erected on the site of a former city-owned garage in Winthrop Square, which was shuttered in 2013, and is described on the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s website as “a vibrant, mixed-use project with approximately 1.592 million square-feet containing residential, office, retail, restaurant, parking and other commercial uses along with a vibrant and inclusive Great Hall space.”

Chris Jeffries, founding partner and principal of Millennium Partners, which has made a $4 billion investment in Boston in the past 20 years, said the Winthrop Center has allowed his firm “the opportunity to take everything we’ve learned and everything Boston has become and put it into one building.”

Jeffries added that he has personally invested more time in the Winthrop Center than any other building he’s worked on during his career.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who echoed BHPA Director Brian Golden in describing Winthrop Tower as a “one-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for the city, said, “Our goal was to make sure that we got the best project we could for the City of Boston and, more importantly, the best deal for the people of Boston.”

Of the $163 million in total revenue the city will earn from the sale of the garage, Walsh said $28 million has been earmarked for revitalization of the Boston Common; $28 million for improvements to Franklin Park; $11 million for the completion of the Emerald Necklace; $25 million to upgrade the Old Colony public housing development in South Boston; $10 million for the Orient Heights public housing development in East Boston; and $5 million to create an endowment for maintenance of the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway.

Additionally, officials said the project would create 2,500 construction jobs and 2,700 permanent jobs, and is expected to bring more than $15 million in property tax revenue to the city each year.

Meanwhile, the Winthrop Center proposal sparked a lengthy debate over the building’s potential shadow impact before Gov. Charlie Baker signed a home-rule petition into law last year allowing Millennium Partners to build the tower and thereby bypassing state “shadow” laws enacted to protect the Boston Common and Public Garden in 1990 and 1993, respectively. The 1990 legislation created a “Shadow Bank,” which put a one-acre cap on the amount of shadow that could be cast on the Common by future buildings.

Walsh said Winthrop Tower would effectively “eliminate the ‘Shadow Bank,’ so no new shadow is cast on the Boston Common.”

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