Potential shade on Boston Common from proposed high-rise raises public ire

The Mayor is among those who want to change 1990s anti-shadow law.

May 09, 2017 |

PIxabay Public Domain

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is among those catching heat from critics of a proposed 775-foot residential and commercial tower that requires a change in a state law restricting structures from casting shadows on the city’s historic common.

Walsh wants to sell a city-owned parcel containing a parking garage east of the common to a developer. Walsh wants the state legislature to modify a 1990s-era law to allow the transaction to go forward, but public criticism is running high.

Supporters of the current law, such as the Friends of the Public Garden, are concerned that a change in the legislation would open the floodgates for similar projects in the area. The brouhaha over shadows cast by high rises highlights the difficulty of getting residential sky scrapers permitted in densely packed cities.

A columnist in the Boston Globe wrote, “The obsession with shadows on Boston Common is ridiculous.” He added that the garage is an eyesore, and the project would help alleviate a shortage of housing in the city. Former governor and presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was among those expressing reservations about changing the law.

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