Monday, May 8, 2017

Sun/Shade & Urban Development – April 2017

The following relate to urban development and urban design in general, and to specific projects with sun/shade issues in particular. They were derived from our twitter feed @SunPosition

Boston looking to skirt ordinance against casting shadow across Common | via @fox25news

“The City of Boston is looking at ways to get around state laws that would block the construction of a new high rise in the financial district.

The building would cast a shadow on the Boston Common and Public Garden, which is against the law.

The debate over the project has been going on for more than a year and the city thinks it has a good compromise in its new petition. But those fighting to keep the sunshine on the common at all times say it doesn't go far enough.

“It's such a gift and we have it tomorrow too, I think,” said Rachel Ringenberg as she enjoyed Monday’s weather on the Common.

But if a city petition to allow the construction of the 775-foot tower casting a shadow across Boston’s green space passes, there may not be many places left to sun bathe.

The tower would replace the old Winthrop Square garage and feature mixed use retail and housing.

“At its greatest extent, that shadow is cast from Winthrop Square almost a mile across the common, the garden and down the first block of Commonwealth Avenue Mall,” Liz Vizza, with the Friends of the Public Garden, said.

The state law making that illegal has been on the books for 26 years.

She says passing this new legislation could set a dangerous precedent and lead to even larger skyscrapers.”…

Let's talk about science: Light and shadow | via @PittsburghPG

“What does the springtime sun have in common with your household flashlight? They both produce light and therefore are perfect for light and shadow investigations. Is your early learner curious about his or her shadow? Spend some time outside on a sunny afternoon, or inside with a flashlight on a rainy one, learning together about light.

As children observe how light interacts with objects to produce shadows, they are building a foundation for later understanding of more complex concepts.”…

Mayor Walsh to File Home Rule: Petition to Change Current Shadow Laws | Beacon Hill Times  

“Mayor Martin Walsh has filed a long anticipated Home Rule Petition with Boston City Council called, “Petition for a Special Law Re: An Act Protecting Sunlight and Promoting Economic Development in the City of Boston,” that would change the 25-year-old State laws that govern shadows on the Boston Common and the Public Garden.

The Home Rule Petition will eliminate the remainder of the shadow bank, and instead allowing a limited amount of new shadow to be cast on the Boston Common and the Public Garden from new construction at 115 Winthrop Square.

The Shadow Bank was set up in existing state law to allow projects within the Midtown Cultural District to draw from a one acre bank for any new shadow cast on the Boston Common that is otherwise not in compliance with the law.

Under the proposal filed Monday, the remainder of the shadow bank would be eliminated, prohibiting any new slow moving, mid-day shadows to be cast on the Common in the future.”…

“The current proposed tower by the developers Millennium Partners includes a mixed-use tower up to 775 feet tall.”…

“The current Shadow Laws restrict new shadows cast on the Boston Common or the Public Garden by a building in Winthrop Square to the first hour after sunrise or 7:00 a.m. (whichever is later) or the last hour before sunset.

The proposed tower would be in violation of the Common Shadow Law 264 days of the year, and in violation of the Public Garden Shadow Law 120 days of the year, according to the Friends of the Public Garden.

The current laws would prohibit any new structure on this city-owned site at 115 Winthrop Square to exceed 365 feet.

If this site were two blocks closer to the Boston Common and located within the Midtown Cultural District, the proposed project would comply with the existing shadow laws.

The Midtown Cultural District is a 33-block area that encompassed the two or three block area bordering the Boston Common and the Public Garden along both Tremont and Boylston streets.

The Midtown Cultural District rules prohibit new shadows from occurring on the Public Garden after 10:00 a.m. from March 21 to October 21.

According to the Friends of the Public Garden just over a quarter of an acre is all that remains in the Shadow Bank today.”…

Developer Pulls Project Amid Fears It Would Cast Shadow Over Brooklyn Botanic Garden | The Patch

Developer Pulls Project Amid Fears It Would Cast Shadow Over Brooklyn Botanic Garden

“Cornell Realty yanked a plan to build two apartment towers that neighbors said would cast shadows on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The developer behind a controversial plan to build apartment towers next to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden yanked the proposal just hours before the project's first public review.

Cornell Realty told Community Board 9 on Wednesday that it was withdrawing its plan to build two 16-story buildings off Franklin Avenue. The board's land use committee was scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday night on the project, which faced resistance from neighbors who said the towers would cast shadows on the garden.”…

Editorial: Winthrop Square, out of the shadows | Boston Herald

“The Boston City Council today begins its review of a proposal to clear the path for a major redevelopment project at Winthrop Square, in the heart of downtown Boston. For the city to realize the benefits of the project — and those benefits are enormous — it must first secure relief from a state law regulating building shadows. The Walsh administration has made a strong case for approval.”…

Hoboken City Council approved a redevelopment plan for the Hoboken Post Office property | Hudson Reporter

“The Hoboken City Council approved a redevelopment plan for the Hoboken Post Office property on lower River Street on Wednesday after roughly 18 residents commented.

The plan specifies how a developer would construct a hotel on the parking lot behind the U.S. Post Office at 89 River St., while preserving the post office as a landmark, and allowing it to keep operating.”…

“According to the redevelopment plan, the hotel could have no more than 170,000 square feet, 24 stories, and total architectural height of about 290 feet.

For comparison the total height of the existing W Hotel is 333 feet including the “W” sign.

The plan also states a shade study must be performed as “the building should be designed to minimize shadow impact on Pier A Park.””…

“KMS Development Partners, the hotels developers, have proposed that the hotel be run by Hilton.”…

City leaders debate over proposed shadow-casting Boston skyscraper | WCVB


“It’s been called a great deal for Boston, but critics say it casts an unacceptable shadow on one of the city’s bright spots.

A proposed 775-foot mixed-use Winthrop Square skyscraper was the center of attention at a Boston City Council meeting Monday. City leaders met to discuss the proposed project, which would bring millions into the city and create money for parks and public housing.”…

“It sounds like a bright idea, but a law casts a shadow. In 1990, a law was enacted banning new shadows on both the Boston Common and the Public Garden. Proponents of the project are asking for a waiver to that law.

“The proposed tower will never cast a shadow that impacts the Boston Common or the Public Garden after 9:30 a.m.,” Brian Golden, of Boston Planning and Development Agency, said.

Opponents of the project see it differently. “To open an existing over 20-year law, move through one project, and close the door on other projects, that to me, pun intended, is a shady deal,” City Councillor Tito Jackson said.”…

Millennium Partners, city officials say shadow issue was a surprise in Winthrop Square tower | via @BosBizJournal

Millennium Partners, Handel Architects, D/R/E/A/M Collaborative have partnered to propose a 750-foot tower at 115 Winthrop Square in Boston's Financial District.

“It was a Friday evening last August when Stephen Matkovits, a senior associate at Handel Architects in New York, called Millennium Partners Principal Joe Larkin and said, “we’ve got a problem.”

Just three weeks earlier, Millennium Partners had beat out five competing development teams to win the city’s bid to redevelop Winthrop Square. At 750 feet, with a potential to go up to 775 feet, Millennium had the tallest tower of all six proposals; at $150.8 million, Millennium had offered by far the most capital to acquire the city-owned parking garage.

But Larkin said at a lengthy City Council hearing Monday night that was the first time he learned that the 750-foot tower Millennium had proposed at Winthrop Square violated state legislation governing shadows on the Boston Common and Public Garden.

“We didn’t see this as a problem,” Larkin said Monday. “We didn’t know.”

The shadow issue has dominated the public process regarding Winthrop Square, a dilapidated city-owned parking garage in the heart of Boston’s Financial District. It was at the center of Monday's hearing on a proposed home-rule petition which, if approved by the city council and state Legislature, would eventually allow for Millennium Partners to build a skyscraper at Winthrop Square despite violating the shadow law.”…

Shadow vs $: It's the wrong debate | CommonWealth Magazine

“THE WINTHROP SQUARE DEVELOPMENT proposed by Millennium Partners is not about the shadows on the Public Garden.  It’s about the fact that every major development proposal in Boston seems to be a new discussion, as if we’ve never seen such a thing before.  And each new development appears to be negotiated in complete isolation, apart from any comprehensive vision or plan for the redevelopment and economic expansion of the city.

I’m reminded of the pulp fiction character The Shadow, who was imbued with “the power to cloud men’s minds.”  And it is breathtaking how easily distracted from the real issues we become concerning new development proposals – how clouded our minds become.  As I write this, the City Council has just voted to approve the Winthrop Square development, and its attendant shadows, with councilors citing the $153 million the developers have agreed to pay for the site, and all the good city officials promise to do with it.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency successfully framed the decision in the following terms:  Is the relatively small additional shadow to be cast on the Public Garden by this tower worth $153 million?  If you live near Franklin Park, or any of the other places where the BPDA promised to spend the millions, the answer is, obviously, yes.  I live a 10-minute walk from the Public Garden, and even I can’t remember the last time I strolled by there at 9:30 in the morning in the winter, when the shadow will be its most apparent. Even I, frankly, don’t care so much about that shadow.  But whether the shadow is worth that amount of money is the wrong question.  This is not how a world-class city manages growth and development, and this is not how we should be evaluating a project of this magnitude.”…

RT @bostonherald: Boston Herald Editorial: The politics of parks

“City Councilor Tito Jackson is so vexed by the idea that a new building downtown would throw an early-morning shadow on Boston Common that he is willing to forego a massive new investment in the Common and Franklin Park, which are in desperate need of long-term financial support.

Or could it be that Jackson’s opposition to the Winthrop Square project is less about the skyscraper, and more about the man promoting it?

Yes, if Mayor Marty Walsh says something is good, then as the candidate trying to unseat him Jackson simply has to say that same thing is very, very bad. That’s politics, of course. Unfortunately the campaign seems to be complicating what should be a rather simple discussion.

For the proposed tower to proceed, Walsh and the Boston Planning and Development Agency need the City Council to go along with a change in state law governing building shadows on the Common and Public Garden. The change would allow fleeting early-morning shadows from the new building but the city would collect $100 million up-front from the sale of the property, and another $50 million from future condo sales.”…

Boston City Council votes in favor of changing 'shadow' law | Boston Herald

“It’s not clear the City Council’s 10-3 vote to ask legislators to alter the state’s shadow law will receive a sunny reception on Beacon Hill.

The rep whose district includes the Boston Common said he is not backing the plan to allow the $1 billion redevelopment of the Winthrop Square garage to shade the park.

“I don’t support this as written, the balance of this bill is a negative on the Common,” said state Rep. Jay Livingstone, adding he would not sponsor the bill affecting his own backyard in order to bring it before the Legislature.

“The laws were put in place 27 years ago to prevent this and they’ve worked well,” Livingstone said. “A lot of people were reserving judgment until the City Council acted, but people I’ve talked to have similar concerns.”

The plan, backed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Planning & Development Agency, would see Millennium Partners develop the site into offices and luxury units and pay the city $102 million up front and $50 million as units are sold.

Walsh has said he would use that money to pay for needed improvements to affordable housing projects, Franklin Park and the Common itself.

The council agreed yesterday to ask the Legislature to sign off on altering a state law meant to prevent shadows from large buildings casting shade on the Common. And other Boston legislators said they had not made up their minds about the project.”…

Fight for Light at City Council | Beacon Hill Times

“A packed Boston City Council Chamber played home to a hearing to discuss a Home Rule Petition on Monday, April 24, to discuss making a one-time exemption to the State laws that govern shadow on the Boston Common and the Public Garden for the developers behind the proposed 775-foot Winthrop Square tower.

The proposed legislation will amend two state laws that for 25 years have shielded the downtown historic parks from excessive building shadows, while at the same time allowing development to grow.”…

“The bill will exempt one developer, Millennium Partners, from the laws in order to construct a tower in Winthrop Square that is capable of casting a mile-long morning shadow from the financial district across the Common, Public Garden and some days all the way to the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

The luxury condo tower would violate state shadow laws 264 days of the year on the Boston Common and 120 days on the Public Garden.

The Shadow Bank was set up in an existing state law to allow projects within the Midtown Cultural District to draw from a one acre bank for any new shadow cast on the Boston Common that is otherwise not in compliance with the law.

Under the home rule petition, the remainder of the shadow bank would be eliminated and any new slow moving, mid-day shadows to be cast on the Common from a future development would also be eliminated.”…

RT @Urban_Toronto Excavation underway at @PinnacleINTL's PJ Condos at Adelaide & John. #Toronto #Architecture #Development #RealEstate

> Another one of our shadow studies, at John and Adelaide in Toronto @Urban_Toronto @PinnacleINTL

Cheers, Ralph

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