The Boulder City Council approved a plan that will lay the groundwork for redeveloping Boulder Junction. Credit: John Herrick

The Boulder City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a long-term planning document that will guide redevelopment for an area of the city east of 30th Street known as Boulder Junction. 

The plan calls for altering the underlying land-use map to allow for more mixed-use housing in the area. It also lays the groundwork for “people-focused” transportation infrastructure that city officials said will prioritize pedestrians and cyclists over cars.

The original plan for this area, known as the Transit Village Area Plan, was first adopted in 2007. In 2021, the Boulder City Council made it one of their two-year priorities to update the planning document for the eastern half of the area.

“It’s an extremely well-done plan,” Mayor Aaron Brockett said. “It positions this area well for the 21st century.” 

Today, the area is primarily offices, warehouses, commercial shops and industrial buildings. Over the next 20 years, city officials estimate the plan will add 1,500 to 2,500 homes to the neighborhood. 

The plan envisions “adaptive reuse” of existing buildings so that one day “arts studios, breweries or distilleries, coffee roasters and small-scale manufacturing” occupy what are now industrial buildings. Overall, according to city officials, it will create an additional 3,000 to 4,000 jobs in the area.

This sort of redevelopment is likely to drive up the property values and lead to the displacement of existing businesses. In light of this concern, councilmembers urged city officials to consider rent stabilization and incentives to build smaller commercial and industrial spaces to prevent displacement, among other ideas.

The planning document completes a larger vision for the city’s primarily commercial and industrial eastern half. Councilmembers last year approved the East Boulder Subcommunity Plan, which is expected to bring thousands of homes to the area. Such redevelopment is one of the few opportunities the city has to chip away at its shortage of housing.

Councilmembers are not changing the land-use plan for the section of Boulder Junction west of the railroad tracks, where new apartment buildings and businesses are popping up. At the center of this area is the Depot Square Station, a bus station operated by RTD. Since the bus station opened in 2015, RTD has slashed services across the region, leaving the neighborhood without the bus services it was designed for.

The latest plan for the neighborhood is built around the hope that one day, a passenger train will stop in the area. Supporters of a multi-billion dollar Front Range passenger rail line from Pueblo to Fort Collins are hoping to place a measure on the 2024 ballot to help pay for it.

John Herrick is a reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering housing, transportation, policing and local government. He previously covered the state Capitol for The Colorado Independent and environmental policy for Email:

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  1. Hey John, I see you mentioned that the possibility of a “passenger train stop” without also mentioning that the passenger depot location was planned (by a previous city council) on a curve on the tracks.

    But trains can’t have a passenger depot stop on a curve. Does this plan do anything to address that?

    If not, this just more pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking and/or pure “we’re-pretending-to-do-something-about-climate-change” PR, and journalists should hold the Mayor and City Council accounting for perpetuating a myth.

    And I’m speaking as someone who thinks (a fast and efficient) train service to Denver/DIA would be an excellent alternative to driving. Unfortunately, I think that cannot happen due to how badly our local governments have bungled the planning process.

  2. While adding residential units is a great idea for more living space in Boulder, it will add to the already bad traffic situation. There’s no plan for expanding road capabilities, and we just keep adding condo units on a large scale in north Boulder, NE Boulder, and Boulder Junction. Everyone has a car! These are not truly walkable locations.

    1. You’re right that these are not walkable solutions, but for the wrong reasons. Take a read through the East Boulder Subcommunity Plan packet and you’ll see how attempting to integrate street-level bike and pedestrian traffic to the existing road infrastructure is not safe or appeasing at all. The only way to make streets safe for people is to remove cars.

  3. Boulder seems already in near gridlock many mornings. I live near Aurora and 28th St. Frontage Road, and it takes a long time to try to even get out of my parking lot, only to sit through lights on any of the N-bound arterials I can manage to get on. With all these new residents and/or jobs, plus the proposed additional housing and busineses in the 27th Way/Baseline area, the city will be in permanent gridlock. Plus the proliferation of e-bikes and scooters, often going the wrong way on designated or undesignated lanes and sidewalks, adds additional challenge to the process of trying to get anywhere. I’m too old to take advantage of these more flexible but also more dangerous methods of transport, and trying to get to my various volunteer jobs in the city 4 or 5 days per week takes a lot longer now than when I first retired. Dedicated e-mini-bus lanes with automated frequent service covering much more of town might help, but I’ve never heard of anything like that being mentioned.

    1. The gridlock comes from decades of restricted building and no foresight past the protection of single family home zoning laws. People, if given access to transportation that doesn’t center around cars, will take it. We have a real chance to make bold choices in this city, but instead will complain about how bad things are based on old choices, instead of how good things could be with bold choices.

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