The Walnut brings luxury to heart of Boulder

The northwest corner of 17th and Walnut streets in downtown Boulder provides a perfect example of how setting and scale can contribute to a loft project’s appeal. The site — just a few blocks from Boulder’s famed Pearl Street Mall — boasts modern, luxurious residences known as The Walnut — but at a scale designed to blend into the neighborhood, not overwhelm it.

The Walnut is home to 34 distinctive lofts, in two towers, developed by Boulder-based Morgan Creek Ventures. Morgan Creek principal Andy Bush envisioned The Walnut as a residential building centered around a private, lush, quiet, tree-filled courtyard in downtown Boulder.

His goal was to bring the outdoors indoors, and he succeeded by adding expansive windows framed in brick, high ceilings, decks, balconies, authentic, natural materials, gas fireplaces and open floor plans for each resident. Each home receives natural light on at least two and maybe three sides, and of the 34 units, only three have similar floor plans.

Jeff Dawson, another Morgan Creek principal, said The Walnut is “unique because it’s directly across from a residential area but has proximity to downtown amenities, and you’re not living over a restaurant or bar or other business as in some of the mixed-use residential projects.”

Layouts include single-level flats of varying sizes, two-story brownstones, skyhomes that occupy the third and fourth floors, and single-level penthouses with private elevator access. They range from 1,000 square feet of private indoor and outdoor living space to about 5,000 square feet. Currently available residences range in price from $589,000 to $1.8 million.

The Walnut appeals to discerning buyers desiring a sophisticated, contemporary, and luxurious home with a modern, architectural design. Owners at The Walnut also value all the amenities downtown Boulder has to offer, including easy access to the aforementioned Pearl Street Mall, numerous restaurants and shops.

This development may be one of the most aggressive and complex all-residential loft developments in downtown Boulder and is feted to perhaps be the first LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) all-residential building in Boulder.

“We applied for LEED Silver certification and are working on some final design issues,” Dawson said. “We don’t know if another project has achieved this designation since we applied. It requires more diligence to achieve LEED’s level of certification for sustainability and energy efficiency.”

Dawson said The Walnut includes photovoltaic panels on the roof that generate electricity for some of the homes on the upper floors, and some power the common area.

“The biggies are the concrete, structural and reinforcing steel, drywall, the MDF painted doors, roofing membrane, and insulation,” Dawson said. “The Walnut’s combined recycled content value as a percentage of the total material cost for the building was over 20 percent.”

Bush and his team of architects and designers collaborated with the Rocky Mountain Institute — known as a global leader in green building — because he also wanted the project to be smart, environmentally responsible, and sustainable.

Bush hired OZ Architecture as the architect of record, with OZ managing principal Kelly Davis in charge of The Walnut.

“It was a complicated project because we had to incorporate an existing structure into the west side of the project, and during demolition, we couldn’t damage the basement, as it housed fiber-optic cables. Actually, it still does,” Davis said. “The other major complication was the city approval process and the need to create a project that makes sense for the developer but isn’t a problem for the community. The city of Boulder’s height restrictions require all developers to go through an extensive site review process as most zoning restricts building height. The Walnut is 54 feet with four stories. “

Developers also worked with an interior and exterior design company, as developers envisioned a clean, upscale, contemporary, but timeless interior style that naturally gave way to the outdoors. All units have private entrances and walkout decks or balconies, some sporting views of The Flatirons or the courtyard. Frosted windows have been added in certain places to create privacy.

The units include Thermador stoves, Caesarstone quartz countertops and Bosch appliances. The floor manufacturer was Kahrs Hardwood Floors, and the flooring is primarily cherry or walnut wood. Bedrooms and closets are carpeted.

All units have roomy bathrooms and closets, storage, and heated, underground parking. A “green roof” with its own sprinkler system helps reduce energy costs by cooling the building. The garden adds color and creates a unique view while helping to insulate the upper floors.

Bush and his team have seemingly thought of everything, and if they haven’t, they can make up for it when plans for The Walnut II are approved. It’s hoped that The Walnut II will occupy the corner directly opposite The Walnut. It will be modest, per zoning regulations, and will be another collaboration among the firms that have made The Walnut stand out.


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