This week’s top business news


Shadows from new Winthrop Square tower could darken Common, Public Garden

There could be a new hurdle in the saga to redevelop the defunct Winthrop Square Garage: The 750-foot skyscraper planned for the site would cast long shadows over Boston Common and the Public Garden. And the shadows would violate state laws. The tower Millennium Partners wants to put up would extend shadows for as long as 90 minutes in the morning over the beloved parks, perhaps reaching the start of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, a mile away, at certain times of year. To move the billion-dollar project forward, the Walsh administration wants to tweak quarter-century-old statutes governing shadows cast over the two parks. But parks advocates and some key lawmakers are concerned, saying a change in the law could encourage construction of more towers darkening the two historic public spaces. At issue is a pair of state laws passed in the early 1990s that bar new construction in most of downtown Boston and the Back Bay from casting any shadows on the Common and Garden for more than one hour a day. They emerged from a successful battle neighborhood residents pitched against a skyscraper at Park Plaza in the 1970s. While more modeling of its project needs to be done, Millennium concedes it will need relief from the laws. — TIM LOGAN


Study finds Boston Uber drivers cancel pickups of those with African-American sounding names

A study of race and Uber found the company’s drivers in Boston canceled pickups of riders with African-American-sounding names at double the rate of those with names more likely to belong to a white person. The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, tracked 1,500 rides on Uber and competitors such as Lyft in Boston and Seattle. The goal was to determine whether customers with African-American-sounding names experienced discrimination in the form of longer wait times for rides and more cancellations of their requests. According to the study, Boston showed “significant evidence of racial discrimination” through canceled rides. Research associates in Boston created two separate profiles to order Uber rides — one with a name the researchers determined would sound like that of an African-American customer, the other with a name that seemed white. Passengers in Boston with seemingly African-American names had 10.1 percent of their rides canceled after being initially accepted, compared with 4.9 percent for white names. The discrepancy was even greater for male African-American names than for female ones. One of the authors, Stanford University professor Stephen Zoepf, said the results reflect more on the drivers who work for Uber in Boston than on the company itself. Drivers are considered subcontractors, not direct employees of Uber. Uber said in a statement that its service has brought improvements to low-income and minority neighborhoods in Boston, where taxis have historically been less likely to go. But “studies like this one are helpful in thinking about how we can do even more,” said Rachel Holt, head of North American operations. — ADAM VACCARO AND DAN ADAMS



Sweeping plan outlined for Needham Street in Newton

Northland Investment Corp. unveiled an ambitious plan Wednesday to remake its properties along Newton’s Needham Street by razing and replacing many of its retail shops there — including the Marshalls plaza and the popular T.J. Maxx store across the street — and adding hundreds of new apartments. In all, the new development would probably exceed 1 million square feet on 27 acres, with rebuilt structures on both sides of the busy thoroughfare. The Newton firm will tear down the two retail properties, as well as industrial buildings behind them, while keeping the historic mill complex at the corner of Oak and Needham streets. Northland senior vice president Peter Standish said plans are still in preliminary stages, but the current goal is to build 950 apartments and about 200,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, essentially doubling the amount of retail space there now. In many cases, the apartments would be built above the shops, and many of them would be positioned on a new “Main Street”-style road that would run perpendicular to Needham Street, extending toward the Upper Falls Greenway. The mill complex would be renovated but would continue to be used for offices. Shoe company Clarks Americas had occupied the bulk of the 175,000 square feet there before relocating to a new building in Waltham this fall. — JON CHESTO



Charitable arm of Suffolk Construction admits error in giving to PAC supporting Clinton

A Boston charity headed by Suffolk Construction chief executive John Fish is acknowledging that it made an error in donating $250,000 to a political action committee supporting Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Suffolk Cares Inc., which lists Fish as its president, gave the money in two separate donations in September and October to Correct the Record, a super PAC backing the Democratic nominee. Federal tax rules prohibit charities organized as 501(c)(3) nonprofits such as Suffolk Cares from making political donations. In a statement, Suffolk Construction spokesman Daniel Antonellis described the donations as an “accounting error.” Representatives from Correct the Record did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. But a spokeswoman told the Center for Public Integrity, which first reported the donations, that the group had returned the money upon learning of the violation. “Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity,” the Internal Revenue Service says on its website. The IRS declined to comment, citing rules against discussing specific cases. Suffolk Cares distributed more than $12 million in grants and gifts in the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2015, the most recent year for which records are available. — ADAM VACCARO



Reebok to move to Boston, cut jobs

Another high-profile company is moving to Boston: Reebok, the athletic shoe and apparel company, plans to shift nearly 700 employees from Canton to a new headquarters in the city. The move would be one of Boston’s biggest corporate relocations in years. But it’s not going to come without some pain: About 300 people who work in corporate positions for German parent company Adidas AG in Canton will either lose their jobs or be asked to move out of state. New Adidas chief executive Kasper Rorsted said the move is part of an effort to restructure the Reebok brand, making it clear that he is disappointed with the pace of sales at the company. Reebok president Matt O’Toole said in an interview with the Globe on Wednesday that the company is still reviewing a few sites in Boston, all in existing buildings and accessible to southern suburbs and mass transit. He declined to name the locations under consideration. A decision will be made by the end of the year, he said, and the move should be done by the end of September 2017. — JON CHESTO



Hiring of teens and young adults lags in Massachusetts

While their parents and even grandparents have returned to the workforce after the Great Recession, teens and young adults in Massachusetts are still sitting on the sidelines in large numbers, losing out on opportunities to climb the economic ladder. The state’s healthy economy pushed the overall unemployment rate to a 15-year low of 3.6 percent in September, but many younger workers haven’t rebounded, according to a report released Thursday by the University of Massachusetts. Employment among 16-to-24-year-olds in Massachusetts reached 46 percent in 2015 — an improvement over recent years — but well below 2008 levels, when more than half of this age group worked. Meanwhile, older workers have climbed back into the labor market and are working near or above pre-recession levels, according to the report. The report paints a particularly bleak picture for black and Hispanic youth, as well as those living at or below the poverty line, and older youth without a college education. Less than half of black and Hispanic youth were employed, compared with 57 percent of whites. While Asian employment is lower than all other groups, many are in school, according to the report. Black and Hispanic youth are also more than twice as likely as white and Asian teens and young adults to be out of school and out of the labor market, a double-whammy in economic terms, according to the report. — DEIRDRE FERNANDES