Councilor Bill Linehan (South Boston, South End, Chinatown, downtown) says whatever minimal shadows the proposed Millennium tower at Winthrop Square might so tangentially put on Boston Common is more than made up for by the $150 million the city would earn from the sale of the old garage there.
At a Boston City Council meeting today, Linehan urged his colleagues to vote for a request to the state legislature to get rid of the city's current Common shadow rules, in part because the sale would mean $67 million in new funds for open space in general and the Emerald Necklace in particular and $25 million to $35 million in renovation funds for the Old Colony project in South Boston and the Orient Heights project in East Boston.
Besides, he said, the tower wouldn't cast any shadow on the Common after 9:30 a.m. and it would be exempt from the current ban altogether if it were in the nearby Midtown Cultural District.
Not so fast there, Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury) objected.
"It's not about a shadow, it's about shadowy decision making," he said, citing a litany of issues with the way the old garage passed from city ownership to the BRA for sale to Millennium Partners.
He called the effort to get the legislature to end the current "shadow bank" so that Millennium Partners can build a bad idea. And there's not even a guarantee the city will get the full $150 million from Millennium Partners, because $50 million would be contingent on the sale of residential units in the building.
"We are permanently putting a shadow on the oldest public park in the United States of America," he said. "What does that say about public policy, what does that say about fair play, what does that say about precedent this actually sets?"
As is its usual custom, the council took no action on the proposal, but instead assigned it to the Committee on Government Operations for a hearing and review before voting on it.