Publisher’s notebook: Boulder loses, Weld surges in population

Has Boulder hit a tipping point in its population level?

The latest population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau brought into sharp relief trends (and perhaps the beginning of trends) regarding growth patterns in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado.

Northern Colorado, particularly Weld County, continues to lure thousands of new residents. Of the Top 10 fastest-growing communities in Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties, all are in Larimer and Weld, with No. 9 — Erie — straddling Boulder and Weld counties.

The numbers are striking. The fastest-growing community, Timnath — located just east of Fort Collins — grew by 21.52 percent from July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018, to a population of 3,992. That represents a 538.72 percent increase since the 2010 census.

Nearby, Severance in Weld County grew by 16.82 percent in the most-recent year, to a population of 5,064. Berthoud, Hudson, Windsor, Milliken, Lochbuie, Firestone, Erie and Wellington rounded out the Top 10.

(You’re forgiven if there’s a name or two that you don’t recognize. But trust me, you’ll hear more about them in the years to come.)

And, yes, the starting points for population in many of those communities were low, feeding large percentage increases.

Meanwhile, we can see — perhaps — the beginning of a trend in a couple of communities that are experiencing a decline in growth. It was intriguing when the census estimates came out a year ago that Boulder actually experienced a decline in population from July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017.

During that period, the city’s population dropped slightly to 107,895 from 108,288 the prior year. On its own, that stat was interesting, but the question was whether it was a trend. We now know that Boulder lost population again, dropping to 107,353 as of July 1, 2018.

Two years does not make a trend. But it’s further interesting that Louisville, just east of Boulder, also declined in population in the most-recent year. Louisville’s population is estimated at 21,163, down from 21,205.

Admittedly, that’s just a few dozen people. But the fact that Boulder has lost population for two years in a row and that Louisville has seen its first decline could point to things to come.

What do the two cities have in common? High housing prices. Boulder is in a league of its own, with the median single-family price approaching $1.3 million. Louisville is also high, approaching $600,000.

Such prices naturally will attract fewer home buyers, and many people are venturing further east in order to attain more-affordable housing.

Communities in Northern Colorado, particularly Weld County, will continue to attract new residents. Some of that will be spillover from higher-priced housing east of Interstate 25, while other areas will emerge because of proximity to Denver International Airport. (Hello, Hudson and Lochbuie!)

Interstate 76 is experiencing a wave of growth, and communities along that corridor will benefit from an entirely new dynamic, as enormous business parks emerge around DIA.

While Weld booms in terms of population, Boulder could be close to reaching its population peak. Efforts to build more affordable housing will mitigate that somewhat, but watch closely a year from now to see whether Boulder loses population once again.

Then we’d have a trend.

 

Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-630-1942, 970-232-3133 or cwood@bizwest.com.

 

Has Boulder hit a tipping point in its population level?

The latest population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau brought into sharp relief trends (and perhaps the beginning of trends) regarding growth patterns in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado.

Northern Colorado, particularly Weld County, continues to lure thousands of new residents. Of the Top 10 fastest-growing communities in Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties, all are in Larimer and Weld, with No. 9 — Erie — straddling Boulder and Weld counties.

The numbers are striking. The fastest-growing community, Timnath — located just east of Fort Collins — grew by 21.52 percent from July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018, to a population of 3,992. That represents a 538.72 percent increase since the 2010 census.

Nearby, Severance in Weld County grew by 16.82 percent in the most-recent year, to a population of 5,064. Berthoud, Hudson, Windsor, Milliken, Lochbuie, Firestone, Erie and Wellington rounded out the Top 10.

(You’re forgiven if there’s a name or two that you don’t recognize. But trust me, you’ll hear more about them in the years to come.)

And, yes, the starting points for population in many of those communities were low, feeding large percentage increases.

Meanwhile, we can see — perhaps — the beginning of a trend in a couple of communities that are experiencing a decline in growth. It was intriguing when the census estimates came out a year ago that Boulder actually experienced a decline in population from July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017.

During that period, the city’s population…