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Work on stalled Winthrop Center tower may finally resume

The developer has closed on a $775m loan that should allow completion of the massive Financial District project.

Last year at this time, work at the Winthrop Center construction site was well underway.
Last year at this time, work at the Winthrop Center construction site was well underway.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

It looks like work on the Winthrop Center skyscraper is ready to get back off the ground.

An arm of developer Millennium Partners on Wednesday filed documents in Suffolk County indicating it has closed on a $775 million loan that would allow construction on the tower — which has been largely stalled since March — to resume.

Millennium recorded a mortgage with a subsidiary of Cale Street Investments, a British real estate firm that invests on behalf of a large Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund. The deal, the largest construction loan inked in Boston since the pandemic hit in March, should allow construction to restart on the $1.3 billion building, which at 691 feet would be the tallest in the Financial District.

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Millennium declined to comment on Wednesday.

The veteran development firm — which built Millennium Tower in Downtown Crossing and several other high-profile condominium projects downtown — never fully restarted work on Winthrop Center after the city shut down construction in March. The company was in the middle of lining up a construction loan — after spending roughly $350 million to dig a foundation and do other preliminary work — when the pandemic forced a halt to construction projects.

Lenders grew wary of Winthrop Center, particularly because the market for luxury condos ― like those planned for the tower’s upper floors ― was weakening. Over the summer, Millennium asked the Boston Planning & Development Authority for permission to tweak plans for the building, switching from condo to rental apartments and reducing its overall size by about 100,000 square feet, to 1.45 million square feet. That cut costs by about $100 million. After the BPDA approved the changes, Millennium said it would seek additional investors.

Restarting the high-profile project would be a win for Mayor Martin J. Walsh. His administration picked Millennium to develop the hotly contested site, pushed to change state law to allow a tall tower there despite the shadows it would cast on Boston Common, and negotiated a deal that called for Millennium to pay upwards of $150 million to buy the condemned garage that sat on the site.

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Millennium paid $102 million when it took over the property in 2018, but the rest remains outstanding. Under a deal reached with the BPDA this summer, Millennium will pay the balance — $51 million — over 10 years after the tower opens, instead of more quickly as the developer sells condos in it. Aside from reduced residential square footage, the basics of the project — including a publicly accessible lobby and event space that Millennium dubs "The Great Hall — remain unchanged. As part of its Winthrop Center agreements, Millennium is also on the hook to help finance an affordable housing high-rise nearby in Chinatown; the status of that project is unclear.

Even as work begins again, Winthrop still needs to fill the building, which had been scheduled to open in 2022. The developer hasn’t announced any tenants for the 812,000 square feet of office space.


Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.