Winthrop Sq Project Meeting on December 5

By Beth Treffeisen

The Boston Planning Development Agency (BPDA) will be holding a meeting regarding the controversial proposed building for 115 Winthrop Square in Downtown Boston  on Monday December 5, from 6:30  to 8:30 pm at the Suffolk Law School at 120 Tremont Street. The meeting will discuss the multi-use tower that might rise as high as 775 feet above Boston’s skyline.

The proposed tower, which is slated to replace the current deteriorated Winthrop Square Garage, will cast a long shadow a third of a mile away onto historic parks including the Boston Common, the Public Garden, and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, breaking the existing shadow laws.

The proposed redevelopment will consist of a designed, iconic, tower of mix-use residential and commercial space. It is anticipated to include about 480,000 square feet of office space, about 35,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 570,000 square feet of residential space and about 4,000 square feet of accelerator office space.

Last Tuesday, The Boston Globe reported that the Walsh administration will propose using much of the $153 million the city will receive from the sale of the downtown garage for improvements to the Boston Common, Franklin Park, and other green space and housing projects throughout Boston.

The current laws restrict any new shadows on the parks outside of certain permitted conditions. This will need to be modified in order to permit this or any other tall project to proceed on this site.

The Winthrop Square project will be reviewed under Article 80 of the Boston Zoning Code, along with a continuation of the community participation.

There was an Impact Advisory Group (IAG) meeting for this project held on Monday, November 28, where IAG members worked closely with the BPDA staff to identify the impacts of the project and recommended appropriate community benefits to offset those impacts.

The Friends of the Public Garden who have consistently advocated for protecting the public parks from excessive shadow and wind resulting from development projects that would harm these green spaces came out asking for a solution to prevent this from happening.

“As you know, in 1990, the Friends worked with elected officials and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (now the BPDA) to draft and enact legislation to protect the Boston Common and Public Garden from damaging new shadows,” wrote Liz Vizza the executive director of Friends of the Public Garden in a statement.

She continued, “This shadow protection has worked as intended – it has successfully protected our parks, while allowing robust development to continue in the city. Now, 25 years later, we are facing a new generation of buildings that challenge our parks.”

Vizza states that the Friends of the Public Garden believes that a comprehensive solution needs to be made to downtown development projects that threaten to cast shadows on the parks and do not conform to the current legislation.

The organization will be meeting with the BPDA, gathering information, and seeking answers to unresolved questions as this project moves forward.

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