Boulder groups commission ULI study of 55th and Arapahoe area

BOULDER – The Boulder Chamber, Boulder Area Realtor Association and the group Better Boulder have commissioned the Colorado District Council of the Urban Land Institute to conduct a Technical Advisory Panel that will try and come up with a redevelopment vision for the 55th Street and Arapahoe Avenue corridor.

The goal of the panel is to give constituents of the Chamber, BARA and Better Boulder a unified voice as the city of Boulder works through its five-year update to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan that serves as a guide for land use in the city and surrounding county lands.

The technical advisory panel, or TAP, is a group of six planning and design professionals selected from ULI Colorado’s 1,400 members. Renee Martinez-Stone of the Denver Housing Authority is chairing the panel. The panel also includes Chris Achenbach, a developer, contractor and architect with Urban Roots; Ann Bowers, a transportation planner with Fehr & Peers; Glenn Mueller, a housing expert with the University of Denver; John Norris, a planner and landscape architect from Norris Design; and Terry Willis, an architect with KTGY.

The 55th and Arapahoe area has been highlighted as a key piece of Boulder’s future development puzzle. It’s defined generally as the area along 55th between Arapahoe and Pearl Parkway, as well as the area along Arapahoe roughly from Ball Aerospace’s campus east to Flatirons Golf Course. It’s an area largely zoned industrial and commercial but one that is viewed as having high potential for a mix of uses, including housing, retail and office space.

“What we’re trying to provide is a compelling vision for redevelopment and creative infill in the study area that is not only an opportunity for the future development of that site that addresses all of our community interests around environmental, social and economic goals, but also is a model for what we can do in other areas of the community where there’s opportunity for this character of redevelopment,” Boulder Chamber president and CEO John Tayer said Friday morning.

The TAP met on Thursday with a group of about 40 community stakeholders, ranging from the likes of former Mayor Will Toor and Boulder Housing Partners executive director Betsey Martens to representatives from businesses and property owners along the 55th and Arapahoe corridors. The TAP gathered input on what those stakeholders hope to see in the area, and also toured the study area along with city officials and others familiar with the constraints in the area.

The TAP was then to spend much of Friday developing a preliminary report outlining the group’s recommended roadmap for sustainable infill and development. The TAP is scheduled to present that report to Boulder Chamber, BARA and Better Boulder members Friday afternoon and evening. But the larger objective is for the TAP’s vision to be presented to city staff.

Tayer said that the TAP will work over the next few weeks to refine its vision, which he expects to be presented to the city in mid-January.

The city has been gathering input from community members for several months as it works to create a vision for not just 55th and Arapahoe but the entire city as it relates to growth-related issues like housing and jobs and how those factor in to planning. The information-gathering process is intended to help steer where things like future housing and job growth should ultimately be steered.

“We are timing this so we are in line with the planning process update and the opportunities for community input,” Tayer said of the TAP report.

City officials expect to have a draft update of the comprehensive plan to present to city council and community members in the spring of 2017, at which point the community will have a chance to vet the draft and staff can work toward adoption of the update with council.

The city has been hosting a host of “Future Choice” forums for community members to get involved in the BVCP update process. The city also has a BVCP online survey that community members can fill out to weigh in on plan update. The deadline for completing the online survey is Dec. 19.