Affordable projects in the works

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last in a three-part series examining the city of Boulder’s plan to develop more affordable housing.

BOULDER — As Boulder city officials wrestle with how to finance affordable housing and citizens debate the need for it, several new development projects intended to meet the community’s housing goals are under way.

The largest new affordable housing project in Boulder, which is slated for the site of the former Holiday Drive-In at the city’s north end, will include between 200 and 300 homes, almost half of which will be affordable.

The 27-acre drive-in project, bounded by U.S. 36 to the east, Broadway to the west, Lee Hill Road to the north, and a block north of Yarmouth avenue to the south, will be a mixed-development community resulting from a partnership between for-profit and non-profit groups, including the Boulder Housing Authority and Barett Studio Architects.

“There will be some multi-family attached units (or apartments), some townhouses, some live-work units and some single-family detached dwellings, as well as some senior residential facilities and a mix of non-residential uses along Broadway,´ said Cindy Brown, co-executive director for development at the Housing Authority of Boulder.

“We are in the planning review process right now with the city. The project will include both market-rate and permanently affordable units and will be at least 35 percent permanently affordable. We’re looking to strike a balance between homes that are very affordable and homes that are more affordable than the typical home in Boulder, which would mean homes that would be affordable to middle-income people. There will be units for first-time home buyers and some pure market-rate homes, which will help pay for the project. It will give us a variety of income levels and will feel like a real neighborhood,” she said.

Brown said live-work studios for artists will be included as part of an attempt to blend the community with its industrial neighbors to the north on Lee Hill Road. Artists will live upstairs in the units and have studios downstairs with garage-style doors that open out to the street.

“Adjacent the north side of the site there are a few businesses, such as Lee Hill Peat. So we don’t want to put up a suburban-style neighborhood there. We are trying to create a nice transition to what exists. It should be a great model for other developments,” she said.

Other plans for the site include a community garden, fruit trees, pedestrian walkways, renovation of the old Holiday Drive-In sign visible from U.S. 36 and the addition a new outdoor movie screen as part of a two-acre park at the center of the community.

“The drive-in was in operation from 1969 to the early ’90s. Restoring the sign and putting up a screen in the park where residents could view films would capture the history of the place. It’s an opportunity to create something new while maintaining a sense of the place’s past.”

Barrett Studios is doing the master site planning for the drive-in site, which is being developed by the Boulder Housing Authority and a few private developers that have yet to be disclosed by the city.

“This is really a collection of different areas that will make up a very vital neighborhood,´ said George Watt, an associate at Barrett Studios and the project manager for the drive-in project. “It’s more than just buildings for a low-dollar amount. Residents will be able to live near where they work. The quality of life goes through the roof when you eliminate the need to always be in a car. The community will even have gardens where people can grow food. We’re making it a walkable transit-oriented development.”

The Steel Yards project at the intersection of 30th Street and Bluff Street, which is being developed by Coburn Development Inc. of Boulder, is another mixed-use/mixed-development project. The community will consist of 90 residential units, of which more than half will be affordable, and 140,000 square feet of commercial space. The10-acre project is the result of a partnership between Coburn and the Boulder Department of Housing and Human Services.

“The commercial part of the project is comprised of retail, office and light industrial,´ said John Koval, vice president at Coburn. “The residential component will include multi-family attached housing comprised of lofts and townhouse-style condos ranging in size from 512 square feet up to 1,800 square feet. Right now we have about 50 or so letters of interest for the project.”

Koval said the residential properties have not been priced yet, but office space at the Steel Yards will range from $19 to $24 (triple net), retail space from $22 to $25 (triple net), and flex space from $15 to $18 (triple net). Coburn will serve as general contractor for the site and expects to offer product by summer of 2001.

“It’s a highly-integrated mixed-use community where people can live and work

within the same environment. The project, which is located at the site where Boulder Steel used to be, is designed to foster New Urbanism concepts,” he said.

The Foothills Community, northwest of the intersection of Violet Avenue and 10th Street in north Boulder, will include 74 units and is a mix of apartments, townhouses and duplexes. The project, which is another public/private partnership, boasts 52 affordable units and will be available to households earning less than 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), according to Stuart Grogan, a housing planner with the Boulder Housing Authority.

“Homes at the site will include a view of the foothills,” Grogan said. “The main feature of the project is that it offers permanently affordable housing to people at very low levels of the area median income, including households taking in as low as 30 percent of the AMI.”

New construction at Foothills begins this month, and the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2001. Shaw Construction of Denver is the general contractor for the site, and Wolff-Lyon of Boulder will serve as the project’s architects. Shapins and Associates will be the landscape architect. The Foothills property is owned by the housing authority. The project will include an eight-bed group home for the elderly developmentally disabled. Other Boulder affordable housing project include scattered site throughout the community of between one and four units.