There could be a new hurdle in the saga to redevelop the defunct Winthrop Square Garage: The 750-foot skyscraper planned for the site would cast long shadows over Boston Common and the Public Garden.
And the shadows would violate state laws.
The tower Millennium Partners wants to put up would extend shadows for as long as 90 minutes in the morning over the beloved parks, perhaps reaching the start of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, a mile away, at certain times of year.
To move the billion-dollar project forward, the Walsh administration wants to tweak quarter-century-old statutes governing shadows cast over the two parks. But parks advocates and some key lawmakers are concerned, saying a change in the law could encourage construction of more towers darkening the two historic public spaces.
At issue is a pair of state laws passed in the early 1990s that bar new construction in most of downtown Boston and the Back Bay from casting any shadows on the Common and Garden for more than one hour a day. They emerged from a successful battle neighborhood residents pitched against a skyscraper at Park Plaza in the 1970s.
State Representative Aaron Michlewitz, whose district includes much of the Financial District, said he too wants to take a careful look at details before lending his support. The shadow laws have worked well for 26 years, he said. They shouldn’t change lightly.
“I worry about opening up a can of worms here,” he said.
This article originally appeared in the The Boston Globe on October 31, 2016.