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Developer Plans to Start Building This Week on Tallest Tower in Downtown Boston

Tower to Cast Negotiated Shadow Over Historic District and Iconic Boston Common
October 1, 2018
Work on Millennium Partners' Winthrop Square development is set to get underway in downtown Boston.

Construction is set to begin this week on the tallest tower in downtown Boston, a building that will cast a much-debated and negotiated shadow over the iconic Boston Common in the heart of the city's historic district.

The developer, Millennium Partners, said Monday that work on a deep foundation to support the 52-story tower will be starting any day now that it has sent a $102 million check to the city, which had owned the site.

Millennium agreed to pay $163 million - including the $102 million up front - for the Winthrop Square garage site in Downtown Crossing. The planned 691-foot tower will comprise 1.6 million square feet of office space and condominiums. It has a total price tag of $1.3 billion.

The approval of such a large tower is a rare occurrence in Boston, which is notoriously difficult to build in because of a maze of local regulations and a tradition of historic preservation. Millennium’s plans for the former Winthrop Square parking garage that sat on the site had to be scaled back twice, after activists complained the tower would cast a shadow on the nearby Boston Common.

Once built, the tower will still cast a shadow on the Common, the oldest city park in the United States where cows grazed during the colonial era. But the final plans will reduce the shadow on the Common to no more than 90 minutes daily, a concession negotiated to win approval.

The deal struck with the city of Boston was the last agreement of many needed for the long-planned tower.

Millennium, based in New York, has already cleared the site while it awaited a final deal with the city of Boston. The company also has permits to begin the foundation for the tower, which will be housed between Devonshire and Federal streets.

Millennium said with work beginning in earnest, it expects the project will be completed in 2022.

The initial plans call for about 400 condos and 750,000 square feet of office and retail space.

Greater Boston has seen a flurry of office construction in recent years - mostly in East Cambridge, and in the city’s ascendant Seaport District. But most of those projects have been low and mid-rise affairs.

And while the downtown area is now dotted with a handful of new high-rise apartment and condo projects, few towers dedicated to office space have been built since the Great Recession.

Another massive office tower, this one at Government Center in Downtown Crossing, is also in the works. Local developer HYM Investments is teaming with Carr Properties, and National Real Estate Advisors to build a 1 million-square foot, 43-story tower, with work scheduled to begin next year.

John Doherty, Multifamily Reporter  CoStar Group   
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