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    Baker signs bill to allow proposed 775-foot tower to cast shadows on parks

    A rendering of the tower Millenium Partners wants to build on the site of the Winthrop Square Garage.
    Handel Architects
    A rendering of the tower Millenium Partners wants to build on the site of the Winthrop Square Garage.

    The Boston Common shadow fight is over.

    For now, anyway.

    Governor Charlie Baker signed into law Friday a bill that changes rules restricting shadows on the Boston Common and Public Garden, to enable the construction of what will be one of Boston’s tallest buildings.


    The move brings to an end months of debate over the quarter-century-old shadow laws, which advocates have said help protect the historic parks from the impact of overdevelopment.

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    Development firm Millennium Partners needed the rules changed to build a 775-foot tower on the site of downtown’s Winthrop Square Garage. The building will cast new shadows on the parks on many early mornings. Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh pushed for the revised regulations, citing the up to $153 million Millennium has agreed to pay the city to buy the site of the shuttered garage.

    The Walsh administration and Millennium pushed the changes through the City Council in April, despite opposition from parks and historic preservation advocates, as well as some residents. Secretary of State William Galvin briefly slowed down approval on Beacon Hill, but the plan passed easily through both the House and the Senate in recent weeks. Baker had not publicly taken a position on the bill, but signed it Friday with little fanfare.

    “We are extremely appreciative that the legislature passed and Gov. Baker signed the bill that allows the project to move forward,” said Joe Larkin, who’s leading the project for Millennium, in a statement.

    Now, standard review of the Winthrop Square tower plan will resume at the Boston Planning & Development Agency, and with state environmental regulators. Parks advocates have said they will keep campaigning for protections through that process.


    “We sought to minimize the amount of shadow this building will cast and mitigate its impact, and will continue to be actively involved in the as the final aspects of this building are decided,” said Liz Vizza, executive director of Friends of the Public Garden.

    Millennium and the Friends group have also signed an agreement under which the developer will pay $125,000 a year for 40 years towards a fund for improvements to parks.

    Millennium has said it hopes to break ground on the tower, which still needs Federal Aviation Administration approval to reach its proposed height of 775 feet, next year.

    Tim Logan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @bytimlogan.